It’s that time of year. When we spend, spend and then spend some more. Money not time.
The pressure is on!
Stores and businesses prepare for this onslaught all year-long. Everywhere. And not just in Christian majority countries. It’s for everyone! Christmas is a cash cow, in many places around the world, leading one to believe that money might, in fact, be God.
It really has me thinking. Not just about spending unnecessarily for gifts that may or may not really be appreciated. But also about what is a good gift.
This is what I came up with during my scorching of brain cells on the matter.
A gift should be thoughtful. It could be simple. Sentimental. Desired. Meaningful. It should be something that the recipient will actually remember, years later, where it came from and the feelings it elicited.
I think those are the best kind of gifts. I have received a few special gifts that I will always remember.
One was on a Christmas morning. It was after my beloved grandmother had died. When I opened the present from my mother it contained my grandmother’s wedding ring and her watch. Still in the original box. I cried buckets. My mom said that she didn’t think anyone would appreciate it more.
My Nana did not have much money. Not a lot of jewelry or anything by way of material goods. To feel the wedding ring that she wore on her hand for over sixty years just really, really touched me. It is so worn that it looks like it could snap in half.
The most recent gift I received was from my childhood friend who lives in Massachusetts. She sent me a birthday card with pressed, colorful maple leaves. So I could sort of experience a New England autumn while I am in Malaysia. See, she had to think of me when she was out searching for the perfect leaves. I was on her mind. And she thought about what I could be missing from home.
She is also the one who gave me simple wind chimes when I moved from my home state back in 1994. Said that I could think of her when I heard them.
I have also been witness to many gift givings. And the ones that always stand out in my mind are the ones that were full of meaning or sentimentality. Not a brand new car or diamond ring. Not a new laptop or phone.
And there are also thoughtful ways to give these gifts. When we were young we had a family friend who was very ill with hepatitis. So very sick. I remember my mom making up a basket of individual, wrapped presents for him. So that he would have something to look forward to each day.
When my dad first arrived in the States he lived with his uncle for about ten years. Many years later, on my Dad’s 80th birthday, his cousin Kathy presented him with his army belt that she found in the basement of her house. He probably hadn’t seen it in fifty years.
That same day, at Dad’s party, I turned around and saw my Uncle Jim in the doorway. I nearly fell down with shock. He had told me he couldn’t fly in for the party because he was teaching a class. He said that he later thought about it and said, “I’ve known my brother-in-law forever. There is no way I can miss this guy’s 80th birthday.” And he booked the airline ticket.
There are many other examples of wonderful gifts. Of ways to give them. I could write all day. I guess my advice to all during this holiday season would be to really reflect on some of the best gifts you’ve received in the past. And do they shore up with your present?