As the holiday season draws near in a year unlike any other, the GOODEE team has been reflecting on the act of giving and its significance. We asked six members of our team to share their thoughts on what giving means to them and the gifts that make a lasting impact.
The Gift of Nature
By Guillaume Bourrousse, Web Development
If you take a minute to look back on the many paths you chose throughout your life and where you’ve ended up as a result, chances are some of it will seem rather serendipitous in hindsight. My back-and-forth between France and Montreal wove a path that led me to Sophie, who, like me, came from France and decided to take a chance at life in Montreal. During my three-year stint in Lyon—where she’s from—our social circles overlapped: We ended up at the same events, even been in the same email threads, but never once met. Only after she had been in Montreal for six months, did our mutual friends finally introduce us and that was that.
One night, after watching the controversial documentary Cowspiracy that really, really put me off meat, I told her I wanted nothing to do with the stuff anymore. She, having not seen the film, wasn’t exactly ready to give it all up, but that’s one of the great parts about relationships, things affect you differently, which opens up more discussions and opportunities for change. Leading a zero waste lifestyle is something she champions immensely and has influenced me to do the same. I’d say it took about a year of us being together and we had mutually inspired one another to make better choices regarding the way we live our lives. We continue to do so, to push one another further. Over time, we’ve reduced our meat consumption considerably and leave a much smaller carbon footprint.
Now, I cycle year-round, I don’t fly anywhere anymore, I switched bank providers, because my old one was too heavily into fossil fuels, we eat local and seasonal (even in winter) and we are minimalist in our buying habits. I’ll only buy something new if I don’t have it, and if it respects some very precise criteria: sustainable, no plastic, made to last, and, when possible, made locally. Each of my everyday decisions is made in the spirit of protecting the planet. Nature is our greatest gift and giving back to her is how I can ensure I’ll enjoy her gift as long as possible. Was it Nature’s work disguised as serendipity that led my girlfriend and I to finally meet across the Atlantic? I’ll never know, but I’d say it’s all the more reason to see what else she might have up her sleeve and make sure we give her the chance to show us.
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The Gift of Art
by Alexia Jacquot, Copywriter
Giving art that you created is like giving a little piece of yourself. It is deeply personal. When my 5-year-old applies himself to making a drawing with the intention of gifting it to me, I know he pours all his heart into his creation, and for me to have it and keep it means a lot to him. As he presents his gift, he usually launches into a detailed description of his project. Instinctively, he knows that art is always appreciated more when you know the story behind it. While I prefer to give other people’s art as gifts to loved ones, the intent is fairly similar: It is about giving something that is meaningful and will hopefully accompany the person who receives it for a very long time. Every piece of art essentially tells a tale, so what gives it meaning for them will always be the story behind the piece.
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The Gift of Care
By Divya Viswanathan, Marketing
The smell of cardamom wafts through the air as I write this—my Chai patiently waiting for me, providing a sense of comfort, warmth, and nostalgia all in one sip. If I could wrap the feeling of giving care in a moment it would be this.
Giving care to ourselves has experienced a heightened sense of necessity over the past several months. And yet, caring for ourselves can seem like the farthest thought, the first to slip unless we make an active decision to create space for it. While we’re so quick to talk about the necessity (and rightfully so) for us to care about everything around us, we often miss the criticality of caring for ourselves first—in order to give back.
That feeling had never quite settled as profoundly as when I was immersed in my yoga teacher’s training several years ago. Straight from a crippling burn out, and a deep disconnect from my truth, I, for the first time in my life, took a month away from all I used to know to dive deeply into myself, something I knew so little of. Daily meditation, yoga, simple living, and community profoundly nourished every cell of my being and connected me to a deeper sense of my part in this world. In that moment the responsibility of caring for others and for our environment no longer felt like just the right thing to do, but an inspired passion. I truly felt the difference that giving to myself could create in my desire to give back to others.
While a month retreat is impractical in these times, that one month did teach me the importance of finding small moments to care for myself every day—whether that is a daily cup of Chai, a warm bath, a heart filling catch up with a friend, or a re-energizing yoga class—they make the greatest difference in creating space to give back from a deeper place of love and responsibility to everything around me, every day.
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The Gift of Food
By Dina Khalil, Product Development
When I was a kid, I preferred cooking shows over cartoons. And since I can remember, cooking has been a passion that never wavered. I started hosting dinners for friends early on, and after many years, it became one of the ways in which I communicate my love to the incredible people that surround me.
I have moved a few times in my life, and I always have these moments where I catch myself feeling amazed at how I’ve somehow managed to find myself in the same pattern, no matter where I am in the world or in my life. The scene is always me in the kitchen trying my best to make a nice meal with people on their way to join me for dinner. I would consider myself quite OK as a cook, sometimes I make good things, sometimes my experiments go a little beyond. However, I love learning authentic recipes and I try to honour them by making them over and over again.
A few weeks after my arrival in Paris, I started seeing a group of friends from the Palestinian and Lebanese diaspora. We would only gather for dinner—because there is no point in gathering if not for that—and every time, it would be someone else’s turn to host. Of course, each host always tried their best to prepare an amazing meal by serving up recipes and flavours from back home. We would spend hours talking about food and laughing about anecdotes surrounding it. Since confinement, we miss this ritual so much. We were spoiling one another with our cooking and expressing our love through food. These moments were so precious and made all of us feel at home, something we really look forward to having again.
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The Gift of Time
By Celia Spenard-Ko, Editorial
My father and I were rushing down an escalator to take the Tsuen Wan line from Hong Kong to Kowloon when, turning a corner at the bottom, I saw it: a poster featuring a miniature aged man sitting on a bench in a dog cage. The tagline read something about the elderly and loneliness. It was a simple ad, not disturbing in any way—you could tell it was nothing more than some decent photoshop skills—but I was affected by it. Because for me, loneliness has always been the most unnecessary of human emotions.
I called my grandfather as soon as I got back to the hotel and told him I would visit him as soon as I returned home. A few weeks later, I flew back to Montreal on a Monday and by Tuesday we were having lunch. We went to a small casse-croûte he used to frequent with my grandmother. She passed a few years earlier so my grandfather spent a lot of time on his own in the house they shared.
From that Tuesday at the end of August 2015, I promised myself I would have lunch with him every Tuesday. For the most part, I kept that promise until circumstances had me move in early 2020. My mother lives with him now and takes care of him full-time, for that I am immensely grateful. For a little over four years, our Tuesdays gave me the ability to see time: We went from him driving me home after lunch to me driving him home because he gave up his driving license at 94 years old. We used to drink endless cups of coffee—neatly stacking those little plastic creamer cups because we both have OCD—until the doctor told him he couldn’t anymore, so I suggested he switch to hot chocolate. We would have these long-winded conversations about everything, then everything became a few things, and a few things eventually became the same thing, over and over, because of his Alzheimer's. Over the years, I always thought I was giving him my time, but looking back, he was giving me his.
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The Gift of Comfort
By Lara Assali, Merchandising
For about a year and a half I was pretty much a nomad living between Beirut, Paris and Montreal without a stable home. I didn’t have a proper space of my own, no furniture, no real sense of belonging anywhere. Around the start of that nomadic year, my aunt—with whom I am very close—gifted me a cashmere throw she found in India. That throw followed me wherever I went, giving me the comfort and warmth I needed to make every one of my “temporary homes” feel more like a real one. When I returned to Montreal and put down roots, the throw that was once my only comfort, eventually became one of many that made home finally feel like home.
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