Friday, December 24, 2010

What It Means To Give (and more importantly receive)

This year more than any other year I’ve been wrestling with my own gift giving philosophy. I enjoy giving gifts and of course I enjoy getting gifts but within the whirlwind of the Christmas holiday it become a lot more complicated.

There's multiple approaches to giving gifts.  First there's the idea of getting gifts off of people’s lists. This is much more pragmatic and allows people to get things that they actually want or need. However if two people are spending the same amount of money on each other, what’s really the difference between this and buying gifts for themselves (which an awful lot of people do doing the holiday season which is a whole different issue)?

Well, there is effort put into going out and shopping.  Being involved in buying something probably in a store that you would not normally go to yourself can mean a lot however personally would rather go off the list.

When you think about the gifts that really mean something to you, what do you think of? I don’t really remember the gifts I got off a list. I think of a picture frame my friend Morgan made for me with little construction paper cut-outs of Diana and I. I think of a little teddy bear my mom gave me on the last day she was helping me move into college my freshmen year and I think of a thank you card Diana randomly wrote telling me how thankful she was to have me in her life.

Does this mean that other gifts I’ve gotten are less valid, or less worthy? It appears that way but not really.

Not every present can deeply meaningful and that doesn't mean they aren't worth giving. Some of the gifts I bought for people this year are more pragmatic, things that I know they want. Other things are stuff that they wouldn’t think to buy for themselves and one thing I’m giving this year didn’t cost me any money whatsoever but took more hours than I can count to put together.

Who knows, maybe the most pragmatic gift will be the most meaningful.  You never know.  Like the love of a song, what’s meaningful isn't always logical.  You can’t control how people receive the gifts you give but you can control how meaningful the gifts you receive are to you.

My parents aren’t big on celebrating on specific holiday. They feel that you shouldn’t have to wait for specific days in the year to celebrate sharing life with people you love.  The same things applies to giving.

We give to each other time, care and love throughout the year.  That is the true expression of giving, not a couple gifts bought during the holiday season.  What makes gifts meaningful is not the gift itself but the spirit of the person giving it.

When you are sharing gifts with each other this weekend think about the person giving it as much as the gift itself. Think about all of the things that person has given you in the past year.  If you keep this in mind, I promise no matter what you receive it will mean the world to you.  And just maybe whenever you look at the gift it will remind you of how that person makes your world a little brighter every day.

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