It’s less than a week until Christmas, so time is running out to buy gifts for friends and family. In case you are stumped about what to get for someone on your list, don’t worry.; retailers will gladly assist you in locating the “perfect” gift. Unfortunately, January looks to be a bad month if you can’t afford a new truck or diamond jewelry for your significant other.
Christmas is a religious holiday. I mean just look at the name. Yup. It’s spelled with “Christ” right at the beginning. But despite its religious basis, Christmas has gone to the commercial dogs. It is the largest economic stimulus for many nations around the world. According to Statistica, the U.S. retail industry generated over 3 trillion (that’s trillion with a “tr”) dollars during the 2013 holiday. Statistica also reports that the average American consumer will spend around $800 on Christmas gifts.
And why do we Americans engage in this buying frenzy? Unfortunately, for many, gifts are bought for others merely because it is expected of them. As a gift recipient, I am not so sure that I would be flattered and happy that someone purchased something for me merely out of obligation. Would you be thrilled to be handed a beautifully wrapped box by someone who said, “As a token of my duty to you, I’m giving you this Christmas gift?” OK, perhaps you would if the gift was a Christmas bonus from you boss, but when it comes to friends and loved ones, duty is a poor reason for giving a gift.
Most of us, I daresay, would like to receive a gift because it came from someone’s heart. That’s why mothers are thrilled to receive something that their young offspring have hand made for them. What the object looks like or how much was spent to make it is irrelevant. The gift is priceless because it was created out of love for the recipient.
I personally like to give gifts that are homemade. In years past I have given co-workers peppermint milk bath, peppermint lip scrub, gingerbread sugar scrub, limoncello, homemade turtle candy, etc. Why do I do this? Because I am giving a bit of me in each gift. Time, an important commodity for busy women, goes into deciding upon and then making the gift. My time and creativity are part and parcel of what the recipient is given. And isn’t this only fitting? You can’t spell gift without an “I” in it.
Yes, “I” does go into many Christmas gifts which are given, but not in a good way. The gift is more about the giver than about the recipient. The giver may be pressed for time, so she simply gives what’s expedient. A mad dash is made to the nearby discount store to buy each person on the list a tin of Christmas cookies. Or perhaps the giver wants to impress the recipient as to how much money she can afford to spend or where she shops. “Won’t Betty be thrilled to receive something from Ritzy Retailer?” the giver thinks.
In other instances, the giver buys what she herself would want. Raising my hand for being guilty on that one. When I was growing up, the Christmas gift I wanted most of all was a Kenner Easy Bake Oven. Did I get one? No. Was I naughty and got lumps of coal instead? No. “Santa,” in his infinite wisdom, thought I’d be better off with some clothes and books. (In hindsight, I have to admit the jolly old elf was right.) But I never got over the desire for that oven. Hence, when I had my own daughter, guess what I got her for Christmas one year? Why, the Kenner Easy Bake Oven, of course! Did she ask for it? No. Was she thrilled to get it? Well, not as thrilled as her mother was. My daughter is grown and gone from the house, but I still hold onto that Easy Bake Oven.
In other instances, people’s hearts are in the right place, but the gift fails miserably. Although I never got an Easy Bake Oven from my parents, they did try to give me the candy I liked the best–well, at least the candy they THOUGHT I liked best. One year they gave me some chocolate covered cherries. They were good, but not as good as my favorite Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I expressed my thanks because, well, my momma raised me to be polite. I didn’t want to appear ungrateful and tell them I really didn’t want to receive the candy they selected. Mom and Dad took that to mean that I wanted more of the same. As the years passed, I continued to get the chocolate covered cherries; by that time, though, it was too awkward to reveal that I hadn’t ever been thrilled to receive them.
The charade ended one year when I was married and living in Ohio. Mom and Dad mailed me my Christmas presents which included the traditional chocolate covered cherries. As I didn’t care about the candy, I left it under the tree. Cue my dog, Beauregard a/k/a “Bo”. (Southern girls have to have dogs with Southern names.) Unlike me, Bo adored chocolate covered cherries; in fact, he ate the whole box at one time. I wouldn’t have known (or cared) until I saw a trail of regurgitated cherries in the snow outside our back door. When my parents asked if I’d enjoyed the candy, I confessed that I hadn’t gotten to eat it because the dog stole it. I mentioned that the chocolate covered cherries weren’t my favorite, and it might be better to send another type of candy in the future. But for the Bo incident, I may have been receiving chocolate covered cherries for years to come.
To avoid gift catastrophes and make the most of gift giving, let me suggest the following:
- Ascertain what the recipient likes or wants.
- Make sure that what you think the recipient likes/wants to receive is actually what he likes/wants to receive. (Review Bo story above.)
- Remember that the gift is for the recipient, not for you. (Review Kenner Easy Bake Oven story above.)
- Consider giving something that contains a part of you, i.e., something home made, No one else can give that gift because you are unique!
- Ignore the commercials; those people don’t know the recipient.
While gifts are nice, they aren’t the real reason for Christmas, Christmas is not about giving gifts. It is about the gift God gave us the very first Christmas–Jesus. And, yes, there’s an “I” in Christ. There’s no better gift than that gift with an “I” in it!
Just WONDER-ing: What do you want most for Christmas? If you receive it, will it make you truly happy? What’s the best gift you ever received?