A friend of mine asked me one morning how I felt about giving presents. This is a topic I have some definite opinions about. I don’t think you can write enough about this topic because it has so many different facets, nooks and crannies that you can write a different note about it everyday. Giving presents invokes all kinds of strong emotions within us all.
I give presents to people because I want to give them something. When I buy or make a gift it is something I’ve put some thought into. I just don’t stop at the Dollar Store and buy a few trinkets to throw in a gift bag and write someone’s name on it. The gift, whatever it is, is something the person has told me they would like to have, or something they have admired, or want, but would never buy for themselves. A small luxury or item that will make them feel happiness. I like to see the delighted expressions on their faces when they pull back that wrapping paper and see a gift, a present, a thought that touches them and lets them know how I feel about them and about the occasion and about life.
I remember once one of my girlfriends asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I told her I had no idea. I told her that whatever she got me would be great. She kept hounding me to give her an idea or at least a clue.
One afternoon we’re shopping and I tell her, “okay, there’s a new perfume I’d like to have”, if she felt so inclined. On the morning of my birthday she called me to come for breakfast and gave me a pretty wrapped box. In it was the perfume I had asked for. I loved it! I took the top off and started to spritz some on my wrists and she dove for the bottle. “Please don’t spray that in the house!! It smells like a cheap hooker!”
Obviously if you give someone a gift they truly want and it’s something that you truly hate, try to save your judgement for the things in life that really matter. I used every last drop of that perfume and enjoyed it immensely. Whenever I knew I would be hanging out with this particular friend I made sure to go extra heavy on the spritzing.
I had another friend a long time ago that actually taught me about giving gifts. She would listen to people all year long and on their birthdays or on Christmas she would take special measures to give them exactly what they wanted. It didn’t have to be expensive, but there were a few times when she really wanted to get a costly gift for someone and she asked all of us to chip in. She was a true Santa. She passed away quite a few years ago, but her lesson has stuck with me.
One year a bunch of my friends drew names and put a money limit on the gift items. I knew the friend whose name I drew and got her the perfect gift. All around the table I watched as one gift after another showed how much we all knew one another and had put real thoughts and love into our gifts and it warmed my heart. Then I dug deep into my gift bag and pulled out something that had nothing to do with me and it was no where near reaching the dollar limit we had agreed on. It looked last minute. It looked re-gifted. I was so incredibly bummed out. But I smiled and said thank you…
…and the next day I whined about it to my two best girlfriends and they each gave me comfort and love and allowed me my petty moment and filled it with their understanding and empathy and that was a better gift by far.
There’s also one other myth about gifts and that is that you can never measure how much you mean to someone else by the type of gifts they give you. Never, ever put yourself through that kind of torture!!
One year my best friend came to pick me up and she had brought with her a beautiful potted fern as my gift. She had wrapped the pot in aluminum foil and it looked very festive. We left to visit another friend that same night. This other girlfriend received a beautifully wrapped music album. I remember it was the new Blue Oyster Cult LP. That should tell you how old this story is. I thought this was so thoughtful and lovely of my friend. What a perfect gift to give, music.
Later that week we were out trail riding and my best friend confessed to me how embarrassed she was to only give me a potted plant, but she had spent all of her money on the other girl. The other girl’s family was poor and she knew that she wouldn’t be getting anything for Christmas that year and so she wanted her to have something for Christmas to know she was loved. I hugged her. What a wonderful friend she was and how lucky was I to have her as my friend.
I kept that fern alive for many, many years.
Giving presents is not about you and it is about you. You can spend a fortune on someone and have them not even thank you. You can give someone a hug that costs you nothing and have them love you beyond meaning.
It’s not about the present at all. It’s about the giving.
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