It's interesting how this economy is affecting the psychology of gift-giving -- whether it's exchanging holiday gifts or making financial contributions to charitable organizations. Everyone is feeling like there is less money in their pocketbooks and there's almost a sense of apology people are making when they aren't able to make as (financially) generous a gift as they were in the past.
My son taught me something valuable this year, when for my birthday he composed a little ditty about my life, recorded using a computer program (Garage Band, I think), and giving me a DVD of it. It was funny, touching, and struck me to the core. That he put so much effort into it, that he actually knew some of the details of my life (which confirmed that he has indeed been paying attention!), was so moving to me. I was simply blown away.
So Christmas and the other present-exchange holidays have arrived and we're all trying to figure out what to do this year. My own family has long purchased a single gift for one member of the family (we exchange names randomly at Thanksgiving), but even this year we felt it was so burdensome financially that we are limiting the exchange to stocking-stuffers with a $5-$10 limit.
But a wonderful thing happened today for our Devo Department get-together. I had proposed a couple of weeks ago that instead of playing Secret Santa that we draw names and come up with a "performance piece" to do for "our" person. It could be a limerick, a haiku, a song, a dance, anything -- just something special for our person.
Oh my god. I know that I work with truly special people, but yesterday's holiday tea and performance "gift exchange" was proof positive of how extraordinary the Devo staff is.
Angele, our intern, wrote a beautiful piece about Jane, our database coordinator. Angele captured everything we love about Jane -- from having been a career woman who has transitioned into retirement, raised two beautiful daughters, and has an infectious laugh that everyone can hear from down the hall. Siobhan wrote a series of haikus about Angele that had us rolling with laughter (and which even included some facts captured from Angele's Facebook bio). Elisabeth used a Celtic brogue to recite a poem about the beautiful Siobhan and the light she brings to our office. Jane had a great limerick about the fabulous grant-writing Elisabeth -- including a factoid Jane picked up on Elisabeth through the internet! Rachel pulled out her Blackberry to sing lyrics to Catrina, using the famous Maria tune from West Side Story. Laura and Margo had each other's names, and Laura movingly read a poem about Margo, who simply is marvelous. Margo harkened back to all of our youths when she presented Laura with a "cootie catcher" (remember those?), a childhood paper origami fortune telling game which Laura can use in the office when it's time to take a break (Get a gelato, reads one of the random choices). Catrina belted out a Ry Cooder-esque song about me and the "Devo Chicks" that had us laughing so hard that we now want to adopt it as our official department anthem. And I got everyone singing a song to Rachel based on the 12 Days of Christmas, only it was the 8 Nights of Hannukah...and there were Five Drama Queens. The only thing missing from this was having Sara, my former co-director of devo who very recently moved down to the Southland, there. But we thought about her nonetheless.
Maybe only an all-female department could pull off something like this. I don't know. But what I do know is how everyone seemed to feel so appreciated and it was evident how each of us values the other. In times like this, we need those moments that money can't buy. And maybe I'm thankful we don't have the money for presents. Because really, these are the best gifts.
What artistic and creative ideas are you using to celebrate your family and friends this year?
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