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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

The Joy in Making Gifts

Dec 01, 2022 06:00AM ● By Paul Chen
We once again find ourselves in the midst of the giving season. After giving thanks just a few days ago, we are now in a flurry of activity, trying to identify things that we believe our beloved family and friends will most appreciate. 

Inside this issue, the Giving Season Gallery is full of wonderful products and services that I would recommend anyone to consider, and of course, I actively encourage readers to support the companies and individuals who make publishing this magazine possible. 

But as I think of the gifts I’ve given and received, I notice that the most memorable ones were not purchased. In my first holiday Letter from the Publisher, I wrote about my favorite Christmas and the gift of invented song that I gave my then-wife. Over the years, we, on rare occasions, made gifts for friends. Today, they’re practically the only ones I remember giving—homemade bourbon balls one year and homemade Kahlua another year, for example. 

I was big-time excited to give my toddler firstborn a Thomas the Tank Engine track I built with my father-in-law. We worked on it for hours in the cold garage of neighbors—sawing, sanding and painting. My son’s confused look did not diminish the joy I felt in giving it; I suppose it was unrealistic to expect him to jump up and down, much less show appreciation for the fact that it was custom-made just for him. 

The gifts that were made for me also shine brighter in my mind than the gifts bought. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve received many a beloved purchased gift. It’s just that when someone makes something for you, it comes packaged with intent, love and energy. A crocheted blanket, hand-painted ceramic mugs, a drawing of the family cats… These are a few of my favorite things!

This year, I’m already enjoying a new giving experience. My partner and I became “accidental” F1 fans this year. So, for Christmas, I planned to create a T-shirt for her that mimicked F1 gear, replete with team and sponsor logos—except the “team” would be that of a particular Buddha, as we are members of the same sangha. Obviously, by writing about this, the cat’s out of the bag. Still, the “new” part of the experience is that I told her about the idea, and now we’re creating a Team Tara jersey together, and that’s been a lot of fun! 

Whatever gifts you give and receive this season, we at Natural Awakenings hope that love and appreciation are at the heart of the exchange. We all know it’s not about the things but rather the people in our lives and the way we cherish them. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

Thank You, Mila!

With the December yoga article, editor Mila Burgess steps down as our yoga editor. It’s been a privilege and pleasure to have Mila write for us. Our third yoga editor, Mila brought a unique vision to our Yoga Department pages, and we have been thrilled.

Prior to 2022, our yoga content focused on the seven limbs of yoga other than asana, although we certainly did asana pieces. Mila took what I call an “intersectional approach” to the topic; that is, she delved into how the theory and practice of yoga intersect with other areas and disciplines to supplement and enhance them. For example, she explored yoga and the art of balance, yoga and longevity, yoga and emotional competence, and so on. 

(Yes, I am aware that the definition of “intersectionality” is different from how I’m using it here, but it does sound like an appropriate term, doesn’t it?)

It is certainly my hope that Mila’s vision and heart-felt work have expanded readers’ appreciation for just how extensive and powerful the practice of yoga is. While I have written about what motivated us to create our Yoga Department in the first place, the basic reason remains the same: Yoga transforms lives for the better. If Mila’s words have caused just one person to try out yoga because of its “intersectionalities,” I, for one, would be very pleased.

Mila, thank you for your vision, creativity and service! May the years you spend teaching yoga and spreading the news of its innumerable benefits be filled with wonder, contentment and joy. ❧

Publisher of Natural Awakenings Atlanta since 2017, Paul Chen’s professional background includes strategic planning, marketing management and qualitative research. He practices Mahayana Buddhism and kriya yoga. Contact him at [email protected].
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