I love giving gifts. I mean looo-ooo-ooo-ove. Like Buddy the elf loves syrup and smiling (one of my favourite Christmas movies!). I normally spend a lot of time brainstorming gift ideas and putting together plans for wrapping and presentation. I get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing an individual delight in an item that I spent time and money picking out just for them. Some might call it an obsession, and sometimes it leads to unhealthy levels of stress when I can’t seem to find the “perfect” item… even though I’ve been shopping everywhere and looking for ideas for weeks and weeks and WEEKS! But I digress…
I’m also a crafty sort of person, so every now and then I enjoy creating something handmade to suit a gift-giving occasion. If you’re like me on both of these fronts, you can probably understand the amazing feeling of giving something you’ve spent hours or maybe days/weeks/months preparing, and seeing it sincerely appreciated and used/admired. There’s nothing like it. Seriously, it’s better than crack… or so I hear. The holidays are pretty much the nirvana of gift giving for me.
But things don’t always go as planned, do they? Picture, if you will, an excited little ol’ me waiting eagerly for someone to open a very special handmade gift a few Christmases back. Practically vibrating with anticipation, I just knew the recipient would think it was the best thing ever. I’m sure the surprise was blatant on my face when I received the obligatory “oh that’s nice” response and saw my carefully thought out and constructed gift set aside, never to be seen or heard from again.
One of my biggest pet peeves is lack of consideration for others, so I was immediately taken aback by this seemingly thoughtless reaction. I’m also a very emotional person, so you might imagine the level disappointment I felt as I wondered how I could have been so naïve as to invest time and energy into something that was obviously all wrong for this particular person. Now, I’m no newbie to making gifts for people and I understand that not everyone can appreciate a handmade gift or the sentiment behind it. I even understand that some people are clueless as to proper giving and receiving etiquette. Still I was bummed, and I regret that this experience turned me off of making handmade gifts for a while afterwards.
Where’s the gratitude these days? I mean real gratitude… for everything we already have and the people around us and the consideration of others. This is something I’ve been trying to cultivate within myself this year, as part of my list of goals. In thinking about the impending holiday season it occurred to me that a number of people could benefit from this exercise… people like my past gift recipient. Even if this person didn’t like my gift, he/she could have recognized the value of receiving something that someone else had invested a lot of time into especially for them, and could perhaps have given a smile and a sincere thank you in return instead of the off-handed remark and general disinterest.
But isn’t that always the way… the thing that might benefit somebody the most is the thing they don’t even consider because they can’t see their own deficiency in the first place.
This year I encourage you to reflect on the true spirit of whatever holiday you prefer to celebrate – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ode to the Fat Man, etc. – and if and when you receive gifts this year, take a moment to not only appreciate the gift itself but more importantly the intention behind it. The gift giver took time out of their day to select or make that item, and took even more time to wrap it and address it specifically to you. Regardless of whether the gift is nice/worthwhile/appropriate, please make the effort to look the person in the eye and say thank you. Everyone deserves that recognition, so let’s show some f@*#in’ gratitude, people!
Incidentally, this practice may also help you avoid becoming anonymous fodder for a random blog post. Happy holidays folks!