This is the time of year that inspires joy, wonder and amazement in the world. Except in my family. In my family this time of year inspires hope and fear. Hope that you get everyone the right gift and fear that you bought the worst Christmas gifts. Please allow me to explain……
Ever since I was a child, I had a big thing about “fairness” and a definite idea of what a “good gift” was. These building blocks were helped along by both of my parents. For instance, the one year I used all my money to buy candy and play Ms Pac Man and realized too late that I had forgotten to get my mom a Christmas gift. I had a dollar and change left. I got her a tiny bottle of Orange Blossom cologne (which I actually thought smelled pretty nice). It did NOT go over well. I remember getting a stern lecture from my father about the “cheapness” of the gift. I also remember my mother crying.
Fast forward to my teen years. By this point in time, we were accustomed to making lists and everyone buying off the lists. So, on my list was a request for Ralph Lauren perfume (I think it was called Lauren… it was in a burgandy square bottle). One of the first gifts I opened on Christmas was a container of Lauren body powder. Ummm…… body powder???? Not on any teens wish list. The fact that it was the right scent but not the right item made it worse. I got so upset. Finally my mother insisted I continue opening my gifts. There, in the last gift opened was the perfume. Ugh. Damn.
Later in life, while pregnant with my first child, my now ex-husband thought that three sweatshirts were the PERFECT gift for any pregnant woman. Do you need to ask why he’s an ex? That man had a definite death wish. The list of examples goes on and on.
Needless to say, gifts and I have never really gotten along very well. I LOVE giving gifts! I hate receiving them. Sure, everyone says “It’s the thought that counts” but does anyone really believe that. Besides, if it’s the thought that counts, WHAT were you thinking about when you got me a “keep it hot” tray for Christmas?????? Realllllly?????????? I would rather get a candy bar than some generic gift that obviously was not picked with me in mind.
Following that logic, if it is the thought that counts, okay I can live with that. But at least put some thought into it! One of the best gifts I ever got was from my grandmother when I was a kid. She had heard my mother talking about how my sister and I kept eating peanut butter out of the jar. For Christmas, my grandmother got my sister and I each a jar of peanut butter. See! THOUGHT! It is never about the money and always about the thought! I loved that gift! I still talk about that gift all the time! My kids even think that was a cool gift!
Over the years I have gotten better about receiving gifts. Being a parent for 22 years will tend to do that to a person. When my children crafted flowers for me out of tissue paper and pipe cleaners one year because they did not have money to buy me any, how could I be anything but thrilled? But the THOUGHT was there! That’s what makes it special! They thought about it and took the time to create it just for me!
For me, the reason to give a gift is to let the person know that you were thinking of them and to make them happy. Why would anyone want to give someone they care about something that they don’t want and that won’t make them happy? It makes no sense! When I give a gift, I want the person to love it and be happy I got it for them!
Anyone who thinks it is about money has it all wrong. It’s not even really about the list (although my girls and I are stern believers in the lists and the men in our lives have learned to cope!). It is all about the thought….. as long as the thought actually occurs. That is what makes gifts great, no matter the cost!