Encouragement is the best present you can give.
Wouldn’t it be cool if creativity was something we could wrap in a box and give as a gift? The problem, of course, is that creativity isn’t a product, nor is it a commodity. It’s energy. Imagination. Or perhaps … an experience?
Experiential gifts aren’t difficult to buy. In fact, they’re actually right at our fingertips. Anyone can easily purchase a voucher for a show or a meal, the adventure of two nights of camping (or “glamping”), a ticket to ride, a cooking class, a dance lesson — all offerings I personally would be truly thankful for. And, while we may not be able to will somebody to make art, it is within our power to arrange an environment in which they’d have the freedom and privacy to do so; to write a sonata, start a novel, pick up a paint brush.
What a welcome reprieve it would be for a new exhausted mom or dad to receive a note in a pretty box that says something like:
Dear significant other, For the next three Sundays I’m taking the kids to the park from 12 to 4 so you can find your muse again. I know you’ve missed it. I’ll even tune your guitar, light a fire, make a pot of coffee, light you a candle.
Dear bestie, I know how many songs you have in your heart. I’m also aware you don’t have epic recording skills. So next weekend I’m all yours. Come to my studio and I’ll produce some tracks for you.
I’ve curated a small audience as a listening party so you can perform you new EP.
Imagine the recipient’s delight!
Yes, these kinds of offerings require sacrifice and time and possibly even having to vacate the premises. An experience, however, is something we’ll always remember, as opposed to something we might forget, outgrow or return. As author Jessie Sholl writes in Experience Life Magazine, “If you want to give a gift that lasts, keep in mind that experiences may provide more enduring happiness than physical presents.”
As a bonus, research has shown that experiential gifts actually strengthen relationships, whether or not the giver and the receiver experience it together. So “even if you don’t go to the concert you gave your husband for his birthday, you are still a part of his story,” as Lizzie Dragon writes in Outdoorsy.
When my daughter was a toddler, my husband and I showered her with holiday presents. Just to see her face in the morning made the excess worth it! But in recent years, we’ve reevaluated what matters to us and it’s become more and more likely that we skip going to the mall (or even ordering online). Sure, our pile of wrapped gifts may look a little smaller these last few years, but our hearts are full.
Now I’m not suggesting I’d be the least bit unhappy to receive a new Yamaha instrument for the holidays. (Hint, hint.) But what I am saying is that the carving out of time and space for a loved one to re-connect with their muse is a fine alternative.
In my opinion, search engines would be wise to offer us some listicles for how we can give the gift of creativity. Hey, maybe I just wrote one.
Have a happy, creative holiday, my friends. See you next year!