We are now at the time of year where innumerable days and hours are spent shopping online and physically in stores, going from isle to website finding the picture-perfect gift. We devote so much time desperately hoping to locate the quintessential token to show our love ones how much we care for them. Contrary to running around playing Santa’s little elves, spending this month’s salary plus the salary for a few more months, the common phrase often heard is “it’s the thought that counts.” And in this instance, this is true…the financial outlay should never matter. The attention, time and thought that goes into picking a gift is the real gift. However, if we are being honest with ourselves, we can admit that the presents we give are often more reflective of our own egos and not genuine affection or attention. So, let’s take a moment to ponder on the thoughts we are actually wrapping up and placing under the tree, and explore the true meaning and intent behind our actions and decisions in 2018.
Story Time: When my eldest daughter was three years old, I worked within the purchasing department at a company that sold everything under the sun. During the Christmas season, their offerings extended to toys for all ages. Now, I like to think of myself as a logical person (…okay…not counting my inability to not cry during any emotional movie or cartoon) who makes logical choices (…most of the time). Well, that Christmas I clearly forgot who the child and the parent were in our relationship. Even though I had already ordered and wrapped her presents, I went crazy as the new stock of toys came in. In my mind, she just had to have all the toys and I rationalized how she [at the age of three] would be so disappointed if she did not get these toys [that she never even knew existed]. It was a sad display of maturity, but fortunately, my bank account had strong limitations at that time and made sure I was only able to purchase ten additional items. My erratic purchases, though intended for my daughter, had very little to do with her. Instead, the focus was on the little girl inside of me—the little girl who was never able to have those type of toys as a kid but was now in a position [in my mind and not in my wallet] to buy them for me…. I mean for her.
Sometimes it is necessary to take a step back from what we are giving—or pouring into—others and honestly assess if what we are gifting has more to do with us than the receiver. This does not just include Christmas or birthday gifts but can be translated into everything we say and do for others. For example, when we tell someone that they should change their life’s path and do something that is safer/average, are we saying what is truly best for them or are we imposing our own fears and failures, caging them into the remnants of our own unwillingness to try and fail?
When we tell others that we will support them in life, but then retract our support because they chose a life that does not appear to reflect the community, are we really supporting them? I recently watched a movie where the parents refused to give their daughter any of the money saved for her college tuition, simply because she wanted to study fine arts and singing. The ultimatum given was for her to select a business degree or lose the college savings. Some of you may think the parents were doing what was best for her, and that if she really wanted a fine arts degree, then taking out a loan would not be too difficult. But were they really?
Not only were they reneging on their promise to support her financially [after years of saying they would], they were also instilling the idea that her dreams and aspirations—the things that made her find purpose—were inconsequential. Their simple statement signaled that she would have to choose between her parents’ support (financial and, more importantly, emotional) and her dreams. Ultimately, they were rejecting her. [Side note: though some of us have the inner gumption to stand and face rejection and obstacles head-on, everyone isn’t like that, and to some people, this moment could be life-changing.]
So, for this gift season, I offer this suggestion: let us try to give those in our lives what they need and not what we think they need [I too have to practice this]. We may not always agree with their choices but wrapping our expectations and requirements with a thorny bow and presenting it to them as a gift is not an expression of kindness and it may not be as considerate as we may intend. Try instead to find out what makes them tick, where their drive and passion comes from. Show them that you are willing to take time out to really learn about them and what they believe in……for it is only then that the thought really counts.
FROM MY FAMILY TO YOURS: MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!