Embrace the abundance that surrounds you

Christina Greer Ph.D. | 11/29/2018, 12:58 p.m.
Whether we realize it or not, we are living in a moment of boundless abundance. As the holiday season approaches, ...

Whether we realize it or not, we are living in a moment of boundless abundance. As the holiday season approaches, I hear more and more conversations about what people “need” to get for the holidays. As I watched people line up in 20-degree weather to wait for department stores to open for items they “needed,” I realized that many of us already have what we need, we just need to look around and assess and appreciate all that surrounds us.

Now, I am not knocking those who chose to take advantage of Black Friday sales. And I am not passing judgement on those who have already started holiday shopping and will do so for the next few weeks. However, what I would like for us to think about is the epic abundance that surrounds our lives already. We are entering into the hyper-capitalist season now that Thanksgiving is behind us and Christmas shopping pressures are popping up everywhere. In a capitalist society, we are inundated with various markers that tell us that we need new televisions, towels, shoes, appliances and so much more. I ask us to stop and ask ourselves what we truly need this season. Will new items (and possibly new debt) actually make us happy? What do we gain by accumulating things? Is this accumulation masking other deficits in our lives?

It seems as if each season I ask myself what I need, and as I look to my friends and family, I am filled with a sense of boundless prosperity beyond material goods. I used to feel the need to purchase gifts for almost everyone in my life. I now realize that what most people want during the holiday season is a sense of community and the reminder that they are loved and appreciated. I recognize some folks can’t fathom going to a holiday party empty-handed, but it is important to remember that holiday shopping is not a sport or a competition.

I asked a few friends what they did instead of buying gifts and spending money often times on items that their loved ones don’t really want or need. My friends told me that they have given letters to loved ones detailing just how much they mean to them and their families. Others set a firm family limit of $5 or $10 to force creativity in gift giving. They said that the spending limit forced family members to really think about their loved ones and their interests and items that will help them achieve their goals. Others still pooled the money they were going to spend on gifts and donated the money to organizations that were decided on by the entire family. Hopefully, some of these ideas will help you enjoy the holiday season and the abundance already around you.

Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” the co-host of the new podcast FAQ-NYC and the host of “The Aftermath” on Ozy.com.