The nearer Christmas gets, the more frantic we become, until finally we rush out to buy something—anything. We’re bothered about these choices because we want the receiver to like his or her gift because we fear people’s opinion of us, based on our gift.
September and October are the perfect months to start planning your Christmas gift shopping, especially if you’re on a tight budget. You can carefully choose the gifts and you don’t have to buy them in bulk. You can buy gifts in a series of shopping trips. But no matter how early one plans the gifts to give,it is quite realistic to say that no Christmas ever dawns that doesn’t bring its own disappointments, regrets, and plain old sulking. How we’d wish we could sign a gift-wrapped card with love and enclose it with a check for a million dollars. But only a few can do that, and still we all want our beneficiaries to say, “Wow, I’ve always wanted this!” Fortunately, expense isn’t the main factor in getting that response. In fact many costly gifts remain cold and lifeless things.
When our gifts fail to elicit the right response, it’s usually caused by two factors: either the receiver is one of those people who are impossible to please or our failure to give part of ourselves. The first factor is beyond our control, so let us just focus on the second one.
The right gift for the right person takes time to find, but the satisfaction is worth the effect. The effect created by our gifts depends not so much on the monetary value of the gifts themselves as it does on the attitude of mind that prompted a certain gift. The meaning of gifts lies in the love they express.
It’s pleasant to be generous, but there’s a lot of anxiety and frustration during Christmas gift-giving season—and not all the anxiety stems from worrying about paying the bills. We’re vexed and worried in trying to figure out what to give to Uncle Jack, Aunt Susan, your boss, your favorite neighbor, your children’s teachers, your in-laws, your spouse, and a dozen others. We also worry about what to give the children.
The nearer Christmas gets, the more frantic we become, until finally we rush out to buy something—anything. We’re bothered about these choices because we want the receiver to like his or her gift because we fear people’s opinionof us, based on our gift.
Our gifts do say something about us, but gift choices are sometimes dictated by circumstances. A man without a cell phone, for instance, doesn’t need a gold fountain pen. A child who is hungry doesn’t need pretty bedroom slippers. Our gifts must sometimes meet needs first of all. Choices are simple in those cases.
When necessity doesn’t dictate the choice of gifts, however, you have to decide what’s affordable, appropriate and appealing. The truest gift is the gift of self. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only gift is a portion of thyself … Therefore the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, his corn; a miner, a gem; the sailor, coral and shells; the painter, a picture; the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing.”
Remember, the meaning of gifts is the love they express, the love both given and received. We all need to give affection and to feel that it is appreciated. We want proof that we’re loved, and we want to know that those we love are glad we love them. Herein lies one of the reasons we give gifts, and one reason why we want to be sure that our gifts say the right thing about us. There’s no pleasure in giving an unappreciated gift.
What kind of gift giver are you? What do your gifts say about you? Are you annoyed by your own motives for giving at Christmas and on other occasions? How can you improve your gift-giving habits?
The first to giving meaningful gifts is thought. Consider what seems fitting for a person’s likes and character. Think of things that will create joy and warm feelings throughout the year. Thinking costs no money and yet the value of the gift of self is immeasurable. It’s something that only you can give.
© 10/3/2009 Athena Goodlight on Socyberty