The Anatomy of Gift Giving (Valentine’s Day edition)

In the eyes of a Buddhist, maitri is authentic and pure love. It means to feel compassion, kindness, goodwill, and love toward all human beings, equally, without any exceptions—including our partners.” wrote Elayane Youssef on Ethical Elephant.

Last year I wrote about a day of love where Valentine’s Day is not only for lovers but for everybody you love from your partner to your friends, family and yourself. This year I want to follow the Buddhist believe to share the love even further to the people who you don’t know and who might need your thoughts, love and caring. But before I dive into how you can share your love with strangers I thought to discuss why it isn’t usually done and why we should do it.

The Anatomy of Gift Giving (Valentine's Day edition) - byLiiL

Gift-Giving

Very often we are believed and pushed to show our love for our loved ones, whether it is Valentine’s day, Christmas or Birthday, we should be gifting our loved ones. I love giving presents to my loved ones but I do have the feeling that gift-giving days are increasing each year and people who we must give presents to are increasing in numbers. Speaking with others about gift giving I’ve noticed that people put a lot of pressure on themselves for giving ever more expensive presents and Christmas presents are expected to cost a minimum of £100 for each person you are giving a gift. Making a quick calculation that would mean I should be spending approximately £2000 on gifts every Christmas, which would easily take me on 3 holidays.

Then there are, graduations, weddings and christenings, which again are wonderful celebrations, but when planning a wedding you are being told that the guests won’t enjoy the party unless you gift them with amazing souvenirs of your wedding, I start to wonder whether the wedding is for me or for the guests who get a free meal, present and a party in exchange for showing up, congratulating you and possibly bringing you a gift. Then we have leaving parties for the quick turnover staff, all the housewarming parties, great you got a new job celebrations, back from holidays gifts/souvenirs, some people gift each other on New Years (this might be a remnant from Russia where they give gifts on New Years instead of Christmas which is a deeply religious holiday), so will we be gifting the ever-expanding network of people in our lives on Halloween as well?

Is gift giving becoming the synonym of love and care, in the western countries, when we do not actually have time for the loved ones as much as we feel we should? It is shown in the movies we watch and many of us experience it. When I was a kid my dad went often on work trips and I got accustomed to getting a small gift whenever he came back, actually so accustomed that I remember asking him once when he would be going for another work trip as I was really looking forward to a gift. Those days he was away from home well over half the year. Now that I live away from my family and friends I always bring presents home, as though they would reimburse the time we’ve lost.

The Anatomy of Gift Giving (Valentine's Day edition) - byLiiL

Gifting around the World

In other cultures, gifts are not given for birthday and there are many cultures that don’t celebrate Christmas, but rather other holidays. However, most cultures still give gifts, mostly as tokens of gratitude for being invited to a celebration or for a business deal, but sometimes for love and for care as well. The one thing I found out about the different gift-giving habits is many gifts are either money or food, and in many cultures, different items can be perceived as rude such as umbrellas or clocks in China.

Essentially gift giving is an important part of human interaction that can be especially very important in many cultures and social situations. A gift can tell another person that one really cares, although to others it can feel like an unnecessary burden as reciprocal gifts are expected almost all around the world. And some people just don’t mind gifts but rather like support or company of the gift giver more than the present, which you can read more about in the 5 love languages.

The Anatomy of Gift Giving (Valentine's Day edition) - byLiiL

Gifting Strangers

I wondered why the consumerist market is not pressuring us to give gifts to strangers and those we don’t know until I realised that they do but these gifts are masked under the word “charity” or “donations”. Occasionally these charities change the wording to “give a gift of water” or any other gift, which actually sounds like a much nicer way to put it. Why don’t we, instead of just donating money, rather give a gift? Gift giving, as we’ve learned so far, is meaningful interaction. We think about what we want to give others, what would suit them and what would make them happy. Why shouldn’t we make it meaningful when we put money into a donation for a charity or when we are doing a charitable thing? There are many people out there who do not receive gifts, who are lonely, who are poor and who, rather than receiving anonymous money, might like the human interaction with a heartwarming gift. Of course with many charities, you are not able to see how your donation or a gift is actually impacting the other person, but there are some that let you know or see this happening. Alternatively, you can be generous and gift stranger that is located closer to you.

Although giving gifts and showing love and care to those you love is something that each of us cherishes, there are people who might need it more. There are already multiple guides on what to gift to your loved ones which you can google or check some of my older gift guides, but what I recommend is giving them time and possibly give a gift to a stranger. There are some great examples of gifts you can give to those who need them.

The Anatomy of Gift Giving (Valentine's Day edition) - byLiiL

Give Gifts To Those Who Need Them
  • Why not send a loving public letter to the big companies requesting them to send Valentine’s present to the labour making the items they sell and get rich on. The present could be a bonus for working so well or items that they really need in their lives but can’t afford.
  • Why not gift the gift of water to those in need.
  • Why not gift necessary beauty or sanitary products to your local shelters.
  • Why not gift a cup of hot drink to the homeless person on the street to warm them up on these cold days.
  • Why not gift a bag of groceries to the poor neighbour, or even better give two gifts in one by inviting them for a dinner to your house to socialise with them. (make sure that you are safe though)
  • Why not gift your company to the lonely elderly.
  • Why not gift blood at the blood bank, or even better your bone marrow.
  • Why not gift a bee with flower seeds that will bloom in the summer to give them more food.
  • Why not sponsor a child in a third world country and give them a gift of a better life?

Pictures are from Pexels.

The Anatomy of Gift Giving - byLiiL

Why shouldn’t we be thinking and loving everybody on this planet on Valentine’s Day?

With love,

Lii

 

You can also find me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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What Was I Up To In February 2018

February was a cold cold month when I’ve been just trying to keep warm and dreaming of warmer months to come. I had a small city trip to London to see a friend and was still so inspired by my visit to the greenshowroom that I’ve been sketching several posts about sustainability which still need a bit more finetuning before posting them. So stay tuned for that!

5 Article about - Is it Really Ethical? - byLiiL

The couple of posts that I did post about sustainability were the Sustainable News of January, The Ethical Jewellery and about Cred Jewellery and finally shared links to various posts discussing whether they think certain topics are ethical or not, such as is vegan leather sustainable.

Happy Favourites of the Week - Friends and Lilies - byLiiL

February is also a month of lovers with Valentine’s Day and I argued that it should be a day to celebrate all the love, not just lovers. I also enjoyed naps in the sunlight and reading great books, and I shared my favourite Instagram pictures of January.

Ethical Jewellery by Cred Jewellery - byLiiL

 

How was your February, I would love to hear about it!

With love,

Lii

Happy Favourites of the Week – Friends and Lilies

Black Panther – A movie that everybody has been talking about and I’ve finally seen it. I quite liked the movie, even though it was part of the Marvel series which I am not the biggest fan of. The movie had a very interesting background story to it, and I liked the setting and the cultural notes to it. Actors and Actresses were great and I loved the visual look of the movie!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Friends and Lilies - byLiiL

My Valentine’s Day Lillies – I love having flowers in my house and to my great surprise I received the most beautiful bouquet of ethically sourced lilies, my favourite flower, from my fiance. They are so beautiful and make the whole flat smell absolutely wonderful!

Watching the Olympic Figure Skating – I think I mention watching figure skating whenever I get to watch it, but it is one of those things that makes me happy. Having skated my whole childhood it is both nostalgic and visually pleasing to me, especially when you get to see masters like Patrick Chan, Kaetlyn Osmond and Evgenia Medvedeva perform!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Friends and Lilies - byLiiL

Books – When have books not made me happy? Well, last week I visited charity shops several times and managed to find, accidentally, 12 books that really interested me! Usually, I have a hard time finding one. So I’ve done an accidental book haul, but oh how I enjoy looking forward to reading these amazing books and giving them a “second life”. If you’ve read any of them let me know how you liked them!

A Very Productive Monday – After weeks of feeling rubbish and not being able to really start my days of well, because I’ve had to take an extra rest, starting of Monday productively and getting everything done that I’ve planned and done it well is really uplifting for the week ahead!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Friends and Lilies - byLiiL

Brunch with a Friend – It’s always lovely to see friends, especially if you haven’t had the chance to see them in a long while. Great food in a local pub; I had french toast made with local artisan bread, yummy, and a great chat with a friend, what more can you wish for the weekend!

Visiting a Friend – And accidentally staying up to 5 in the morning just to chat and not noticing how the time past by. It will take me a few days to catch up with my sleeping rhythm, but it was worth it!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Friends and Lilies - byLiiL

 

What made you happy last week? Let me know, I would really love to hear!

With love,

Lii

The Day of Love

I’ve come to really dislike the commercialised holidays that only want people to spend money such as Valentine’s Day. But I don’t want to miss on all the fun! I just don’t want to succumb to using my money because of the successful marketing tactics. And although I find Galentine’s Day as being a positive reaction to the single ladies who want to celebrate their friendships, I am saddened that Valentine’s Day is not considered as a day for lovers, friends and families alike, not even mentioning self-love. Last year I wrote about how Valentine’s Day in Finland is actually called “friends day” and although people also celebrate lovers, it is a well-rounded day to love people, so why can’t we do this in every culture?

The Day of Love - byLiiL

It is wonderful that we have a day on which we should remember to love those dearest and nearest to us, although I think we should be doing it every day, or at least on a regular basis, rather than just ones a year. Nevertheless, I will be sending loving eco-friendly cards to my friends, spend a lovely evening with my fiance and remember to love myself as well!

This Valentine’s day let’s all think about something else than buying gifts when they are not needed or feeling sorry for oneself when everybody else is flaunting their love in your face. Instead, let’s celebrate the love people have! Take an example from the Buddhist way to love! Whether it is for your partner, for your lover, for your friend, for your family, for your pets or for yourself. Who says Valentines is only meant for lovers? I think it is a day when you should remember whoever you love and make their days better!

The Day of Love - byLiiL

 

How are you spending your Valentine’s Day?

With love,

Lii

What have I been up to in February

I had trouble being motivated and inspired in February unless we count the inspiring Iris Apfel, who I wrote about in the beginning of the month. I was unwell for about three weeks of the month, which in February seems even longer than any other month. Being frustrated and stuck at home I concentrated my time on reading books such as The Buried Giant and Persepolis and watching tv-shows and movies that got me more inspired to learn more about different cultures.

Happy favourites of the week - learning experience - byLiiL

Being stuck at home has made me dream a lot. I’ve been dreaming about a dining space and about warmer weather. My two furballs have been a big comfort and seem to be happy about me being home so much. Some enjoyment I’ve gained from using my Matt&Nat handbag when out and about and using my new favourite items from Lush. Valentine’s day brought me many lovely messages from friends and a happy smile from my boyfriend on receiving his sustainable valentine’s day cards with two lovey-dovey foxes.

Are cat's affectioned - byLiiL

I’ve had some time to research sustainability and wrote about 5 easy sustainable fashion changes and why I would change to natural cleaning products, rather than use the mainstream options. Most proud I have been about being able to keep up with regular posting! Hurray! Now I hope March will bring some more sunlight into our lives and I can go and enjoy ice skating while the rink is still open, yoga and walks in that sunshine!

What have I been up to in February - byLiiL

How was your February?

With love,

Lii

Valentine’s Day or Friends Day?

I consider Valentine’s Day as a very commercialised day (although which special day isn’t?), so I prefer to make it as little about presents. Here, in the UK Valentine’s day is the day for the lovers, but Finland, where I come from it is a day for friends. We used to send lovely notes to our friends on Valentine’s day and not only boys, and the whole day was wrapped around amazing friendships. Then, when I watched TV-shows about Valentine’s day I always dreamed of getting my own Valentine’s day card from a boy, but now that I see how I would like to spend a lovely relaxing day with my boyfriend and have a rejuvenating day with my friends as well.

Valentines of Friends day - byLiiL

For somebody who’s friends are far away, celebrating Valentine’s day with them can be hard. I don’t really want to send them cards, but a nice and long letter can put a smile on their face. A letter can be written on a recycled paper or through email or other messaging apps with a picture of the two of you having a fun time. I personally love getting letters and messages from my friends, makes me smile every time!

 

However, if you want to send a card, try to choose one made from recycled cards. Block Forest cards are some of my favourites with their lovely quirky little animals and they have cards suitable for lovers as well as friends. Their cards are eco-friendly and even the display sleeve is biodegradable. How great is that!

Valentines of Friends day - byLiiL

Pictures are from the BlockForest shop.

Do you celebrate Valentine’s day or Friend’s day?

With love,

Lii