Christmas is coming. It’ll be here in just one week. I’m excited, more so than I have been in years. There’s a lot going on this time. For starters, I’ll be able to bring home a girlfriend, which is a first for me. I’ve watched my brother and sister do that from time to time, but it’s always been just me coming home. My family is eager to meet her and she’s eager and adorably nervous about meeting them.
There’s something else big going on, but I’m not going to get into it here. It’s something that I’m a little nervous about (and no, for anyone guessing it’s a proposal, I’m not doing that this year).
I am excited to spend time with family, show off my prize, and, yes, open a few presents. I’m even more eager to watch people open what I’ve gotten them. Which brings me to the point of this particular entry:
Christmas is a time of receiving as well as giving.
It seems most people focus on one or the other. They either give more than they can afford or become so tied to what they’re giving that any rejection of it becomes unbearably harsh or they are focused on what they’re going to get and hoping they’ll come out ahead. Neither attitude is healthy.
For the former, a gift should be an expression of love for someone, not a requirement for them to love you. Yes, it should be accepted gracefully even if the person thinks that sweater is one of the ugliest things ever seen or if that fruitcake was first re-gifted by Paul the Apostle, but neither the gift itself nor their attitude toward it is the point. The point is to say “I love you”, not just with how much you’ve spent or how much time something took to make, but with actual thought about the person and what they’d like. Whether you nail it or bomb miserably, if you’ve honestly tried to love that person with your gift, you’ve done a great job.
And if you’re on the receiving end of a bombed gift idea, if that reindeer that poops out gumballs isn’t what you had your eye on for the last three months, that doesn’t matter, either. Try to see the gift for the love behind it, not for whether it’d look good on you or whether you’ll have fun playing with it. Remember that person didn’t have to get you anything. They did, though, most likely because they genuinely like you and want you to have something more than they wanted the money for themselves.
Also, if you’ve spent $100 on someone and they spent $15 on you, you have no right to be angry. The gift you give and the one you receive are totally independent. Gift-giving is not supposed to be score-keeping. If you’re not giving in love, then you might as well give nothing at all. And if you’re giving in love, it won’t matter to you what you get in return.
Lastly, there was a person who asked me to give them no presents this year. I’m ignoring that, mostly because the individual’s reason was a lack of ability to reciprocate rather than a lack of desire to do so. If you’re such a person, if you have a hard time receiving presents, remember that Christmas started with a present to you when you had nothing to offer. Love doesn’t have to be repaid, just accepted, and when you’ve accepted it, you can give it to someone else who can’t give you anything.