The Greatest Gift

Ready? Set. Go!!!

Christmas and Hanukkah are fast approaching. You have probably been bombarded with advertisers telling you how much money you can save if you spend!  Layaway has been resurrected and you can do all your shopping online. Your email and mailbox are competing for your retail attention. There are decorations, trees, candles, and food to buy. Plus, the presents which are expected to be given and received, especially when it comes to children.

We are conditioned “to buy” gifts for holidays.  However, it should not create financial, emotional or physical hardship (thank goodness for gift cards).  We shouldn’t have to get someone a present because it is expected! Nor should we anticipate a present because the advertisers imply that it is a reflection of our personal value.  And the closer the relationship the higher the pressure or price tag!  How many of us are really going to buy an Audi for Christmas?

So if we are going to succumb to the overwhelming pressure of the gift giving, let’s at least categorize a few in order to provide perspective.

The “HAVE TO” Gift –

This category is for the politically correct.  This is more about the “who” than the “what.”  These could be your children’s teacher, employees, vendors, or community contacts such as your postman or manicurist.  It could be the usual Starbucks gift card or the mug that tells them they are the greatest.  They may or may not expect an acknowledgement but you feel compelled even when you don’t want to or know them particularly well.

The “STUFF” Gift –

This gift is given out of desire to give. But there is frustration as to what to give.  These are the gifts we might wander around aimlessly in search of something that they may want or like. It might even be something we want them to have or use…but they won’t.  They might wear it or use it once, like a funky tie or green sweater, before it finds it away into closet oblivion. Or it goes straight to the re-gift pile. Know what I am talking about…?

The “CONSUMABLE” Gift –

There are some unique benefits to this gift.  Practical placement and years of cleaning them are non-existent. You don’t have to worry about the stuffed moose head fitting in with your decor.  Another perk is that it can be enjoyed with the giver and others such as a box of See’s Candies or a bottle of wine.  Giving or getting something deliciously homemade is special because we know the care and effort that went into the preparation (provided it’s not fruitcake).

For example, one year, I gratefully received several casseroles to put in the freezer for when I was too tired to cook!!!  Someone actually noticed that as a working mother with a family I might not want to deal with dinner.  It was the thought behind the effort that truly touched my heart and it made my life just a bit easier that year.

The “WIN, WIN, WIN” Gift –

“What do your mean?” you ask.  These are gifts that are given that include you! These presents most importantly include time together doing something fun! Tickets to the theatre, ball game, movie or a leisurely dinner out can encompass several benefits.  This ends up with high emotional value because (hopefully) the gift is geared toward the receiver.  Don’t give your spouse tickets to football or a musical if it is not their interest.  The time shared during the activity, and the memory of the shared experience can potentially increase relationship satisfaction.

The “UNKNOWN” Gift –

These are in the “Random Acts of Kindness” category.  It is a demonstration of thoughtfulness that truly touches the heart of another.  This happened last year when a young women gave up something she wanted to purchase for herself (magic rain boots) in order for someone else (me) to buy them for her daughter.  She was not asked but offered because they were to be a gift for someone else!  This was the highlight of the Holiday season for me.  She has no idea how this impacted me or how much my daughter loves her magic rain boots!

“HEART” Gifts –

You will know when you give or get one!  You will be excited either way and you won’t forget it. They represent something personal and they are special.

Gifts from the heart demonstrate the connection in the relationship and have an incredible amount of meaning, like a love letter or the passing down of a family heirloom.  We value the sentiment and intimacy behind the chosen article or thought.  It might be some type of memento of a shared experience or a reminder of the strength of your relationship.

Connection

As I mature, I realize that as lovely as it is to receive a surprise, to open the unknown present and be wowed by a thoughtful choosing of an item, is not the most important aspect of life.  The greatest gift we have to give to each other is “relationship.”  It might be a family member, friend, neighbor or a coworker.  It could even be the sweet calming connection between you and your pet.

Relationship entails connection on some type of emotional level. There is an investment in time and energy.  And, there are benefits such as minimizing loneliness and a positive correlation to being healthy.  The greatest gift we can give and receive is the willingness to care and be relevant to another.

Thank you for allowing me with connect to you in some small way.  May you enjoy all of your holidays and have a wonderful New Year.

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Charmaine Byrne - December 10, 2012

Great article, Laura!!
I agree that gifts from the heart are best. I read a quote recently and it went something like “Love people, not things, Use things, not people. Most likely, we all have way too many things, but the people, pets and life are the truly precious amenities to the heart. My annual wish is always to spend more time with family & friends. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

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