Another kind of gift.

Reveal your true self.

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Out

My mom turned sixty earlier this week. We had plans to gather for a reasonably big celebration, but this year, celebrations taste different, don’t they?

Since the family is split across France and Portugal, we went virtual. Our gifts to her were 1) us four singing an old french song with handmade lyrics (I will never share this, even under torture) ; 2) a photo montage of our best moments with her.

Watching her turn so emotional with these gifts triggered this newsletter, that I’ve been wanting to write for ages.


Buying Gifts

These two words are so profoundly bounded to each other and anchored in our own selves that challenging this disassociation is perceived as an act of radicalism or extreme selfishness.

Why do we feel the need to demonstrate our love for others through money? Why do we keep having this feeling that a hand-written letter, an improvised picnic at sunset or a video montage is not enough? Why do we always feel the need not to come empty-handed on the d-day, to the point we are ready to buy any “better-than-nothing” dust collectors, just to “mark the occasion”?

Last year at this period, I tried to challenge our coming Christmas celebration. The first reason was that I was deeply sick of this seek-for-ideas preChristmas period. Inspired by what my good friend Daniel had been doing with his family, I introduced - to a pretty progressive family - the idea of a Secret Santa where each of us would only offer - and receive - one single gift. The benefits to me would be pretty clear: have more time crafting meaningful gifts, learn how to be content with just one nice thing, and celebrate us-being-together more than what comes under the tree. The objections were pretty fierce: I have been thinking about your gifts for months (even purchased some), I love buying nice stuff, this is my way to support creative craft around me, Christmas without gifts isn’t Christmas anymore. Turns out we did do the Secret Santa, but with a bitter taste. And I am not sure we would reproduce it anytime soon. What have I missed?


or Creating Gifts?

I wanted to balance our traditional approach to Gifts with my own background receiving and offering experience-based presents. Because they (way too often) are underestimated while in my opinion, they are absolutely self-sufficient. I cannot say I always believed that, but today I definitely do.

The tipping point probably was our wedding weekend: three years after the event, I remember every single piece of entertainment from our loved ones, the words and smiles from their declarations, songs, poems, videos, flashmob and quizz still resonate… while I am having a hard time recalling the physical objects we were offered (few rare exceptions like this makhila, but this was a piece of art, crafted by my friend Liza).

With a few exceptions, I don’t recall being emotional nor crying for any physical item I received. Even then, I wonder if the emotion was triggered by the singularity and symbolism of the moment more than the object itself. On the other hand, the following presents clearly made me use a couple (boxes?) of Kleenex - on the spot, and years later still:

  • 25 years of me, my family and closed friends in a video (that was a HUGE work)

  • my family flying to Boulder, CO for a surprise week for my 30st birthday, right before starting Techstars (totally unexpected knock-knock at the door)

  • my good friend Maxime sending me appreciations on whatsapp

Okay I do feel the need to give you a bit more context on the latter 👇

So he was recently doing this self-improvement exercice of interviewing the people gravitating around him, asking them the following questions: #1 according to you, what are my strengths ; #2 what do you feel when you’re by my side ; #3 if you were to ask me for advice or help, on which topic would that be. He asked me if I’d like to participate. I was like, “sure I’ll do it”, and then realized if I wanted to do it right, I had to make space and time for this exercice. As I began writing, I realized how much I care for this person, and it made me want to put all my heart into these words. I didn’t expect he would spontaneously do the same exercice in return. And it was the most touching words I had read it a long time. All it took was half an hour each, at most.


the benefits of Creating Gifts

🤲 What it brings to its creator: it stimulates your creativity, potentially teaches you new skills, allows you to make space in your busy life to express gratitude and acknowledge what this person means to you, the unique touch she brings to your life. It also creates fun times with your co-creators. Ultimately, it will fill your heart with joy at this exact moment the first tear (or smile!) comes out.

🙏 What it brings to its recipient: that intense feeling you are loved, cared for, that you’re being acknowledged for who you are. Deep down you know you mean something to him/her/them. For a minute, an hour, a day, you’re the center of their world. You value the time, energy and care they’ve put into this gift. And this fills your heart with immense gratitude.


random ideas, out of the blue:

  • re-adapting lyrics on a song this person loves / both of you cherish

  • writing a (amateur) poem

  • making a photo or video montage of key moments of her/his life

  • delivering your favorite book, signed with a personal note from you

  • (hand)writing a letter

  • baking his/her favorite cake or meal

  • inviting her/him for some quality time (i.e. no phone, no distraction)

  • inviting yourself for a cosy afternoon (bring the food/drink supply :P)

  • sending your answers to the 3 questions (read above Maxime’s questions 👆)


My conclusion is that gifts that emotionally touch someone (I cry, but you don’t need to), most of the time, are not money related. Well, indirectly, if we want to think about time as money. I am far from being a perfect friend or family member. But I realize I am a way happier person when I dedicate time for them.

I’d rather spend eight hours learning a new skill (archery or how to use iMovie) and make someone I love actually feel loved. I am not saying that buying physical gifts suck, I am saying there is something out there more powerful - and more you - than that. There is no need to be an artist. Nor to spend eight hours geeking on a software 🙃. And the good thing is, even if you’re broke, you can still make your loved ones happy.

What’s new in the app 📱

New feature coming : we are letting you create lists of your stuff !
Next step (coming weeks) : the ability to share these lists to the outside world! ↪️ 👯‍♀️

Wanna list your camping gear or book collection (probably more accurate during a lockdown)… and soon share it out there? Join our waitlist and get your hands on our beta!

In

To give this quote the spotlight it deserves, this week I am sharing just that 👇

There should be no shame in admitting to a mistake; after all, we really are only admitting that we are now wiser than we once were. Essentialism (book)

Have a beautiful day and weekend! 👩🏻‍🚀

Mathilde

Photo by Anastasia Vityukova on Unsplash