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When I was growing up, the greatest time of the year was always Christmas.  My mother loved the Christmas season and her joy was absolutely infectious.  Much of that joy was centered around our faith, but there was a par of it that was invested in the gifts.  But, and here we come to another thing that I can never be more grateful to my parents for, it was about the giving and not the receiving that always was the joy.

Of course as kids, Christmas and birthdays were always cornucopias of new toys and such. And, we learned to be thankful for every gift received, even if it was boring old socks or underwear.  However, while most of the gifts I received in my youth, with a few notable exceptions, have faded into the mists of time, I can vividly recall watching my parents, siblings, and friends open my gifts to them.

My mother taught us to love that little moment.  I cherish it to this day.  There is no gift I can receive from someone that will top the look of surprise, gratitude, or joy that crosses their face when they open a gift I painstakingly selected and I got right.  Gift-giving, for me, is so much ore fulfilling than gift-receiving.

As I’ve gotten older I have learned how difficult it can be to select that gift.  As many of my friends and family have gotten to a point where they do not need, or in some cases want, more “stuff,” you have to become more creative.  Gifts stop being things and start being experiences.  Instead of that physical item that will simply take up space and collect dust perhaps you take a loved one on a trip.  Tickets to concerts, theater, or events take the place of interesting, but ultimately useless, knickknacks.

These can sometimes be the hardest gifts to figure out.

Any time we begin perusing options for these types of experiential gifts it becomes very hard not to inject our own interests into the process.  We may be looking over a list of concerts and see something that we would love to attend.  But would they be as enthusiastic?  There may be an event you have been dying to attend.  But would it pique their interest?

Separating your own desires is easy when you are gifting to someone to take their own spouse, significant other, or friend.  But what about when you will be the one going along?  Here is where it can get tricky.  I know they want to see this, but it sounds like an absolute bore to me, I’ll get them this instead.  I guess I can take them there, but only if we have some ground rules about how long I have to stay.

I’m as guilty as the next person.

And so, as I enter the time of year where birthdays seem to follow one on the other and Christmas looms on the horizon, I say a simple prayer.  I ask that my hand be guided by the true spirit of gifts.  I ask that any selfishness be cleansed from my heart as I look for ways to express myself through gifts.  I ask for the inspiration to invoke that look of joy as a gift is opened.

Hopefully, in these things, I can make my mother proud of her wayward son.  I still miss her dearly and hope she smiles down on me as I follow her example to give without expectation or self-interest.

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One Comment

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