Published monthly by Sharon Eakes, Hope Unlimited, LLC
FOCUS - MORE JOY; LESS STUFF - Reflections on Holiday Giving
Discipline: Shared Vision

"And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more!"
Dr. Seuss

The giving and receiving part of the holidays has run amok. The pressure to get all the right people all the right presents wears us out and puts us in debt. Holiday shoppers look stressed and grumpy. Children often receive so much they are overwhelmed. Then they're depressed when it's all over. The promise of new acquisitions is never fulfilled.

So I invite you to join me in creating a new vision of holiday gift that lets family and friends know we're thinking of them, but plays to the tune of More Joy, Less Stuff.


The Center for a New American Dream, a member-based non-profit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the hidden costs of excessive consumption, offers these suggestions:

Gifts of time, such as
- Special activities with your significant other - a candlelight dinner, massage, or outdoor activity
- A monthly lunch date with an elderly relative or friend
- Offer a particular talent such as photography, gardening, financial planning or hairstyling

Homemade gifts, such as
- Recorded interviews of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles on audio tape; you can ask them to discuss their memories of the person you plan to give the tape to, or your family's history
- Make a rope swing, painted wooden blocks or sandbox for a child
- Frame one of your best photographs

Gifts of Experience, such as
- Sign the recipient up for lessons in a sport, a language, or a musical instrument
- Offer to teach her a skill you possess, such as canning tomatoes, salsa, knitting, wood carving, or the butterfly stroke

Gifts of Charity (see
- Donate to a cause in the name of a friend or family member
- Sponsor a child refugee, support a homeless shelter, protect an acre of rainforest

- Visit The Center for a New American Dream website (
- Have conversations with friends and family (including children) about these issues.
- Give some alternative gifts this year - they work for Hanukkah, birthdays and Ayyam-i-Ha as well as Christmas!

There will not be a telegathering this month, because I'm off to CT where my son is getting married. However I would love to hear your alternative gift-giving ideas. Please e-mail them to me! Reach me: 1-888-907-HOPE (4673)or e-mail I am a personal and executive coach and would be happy to offer you a complimentary coaching session by phone.

Each month FRESH VIEWS focuses on a single topic, relates it to one of the five disciplines of a learning community, and offers a coaching tip and a follow-up telegathering. Please forward it to friends and colleagues. My purpose in writing FRESH VIEWS is to nurture, prod and encourage readers to think and talk about these topics with their families, friends and colleagues. Mine is only one view. Multiple conversations may deliver us to insights only hinted at here. Such a process sustains the vitality of learning relationships, learning families, learning organizations and learning communities.

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