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Gifts reveal the Giver

“Remember, the greatest gift is not found in a store nor under a tree, but in the hearts of true friends.”

This weekend, I had a discussion about the delicacy of gift giving. The haggaring duty of it, and the joy it can be as well.What kind of gift giver are you? The reality is, many of us are obligated gift givers. We buy for occasions which are dictated by etiquette.Each year, at about this time, I get an unsolicited email from my ex-husband. Usually the subject line is something like; Birthday and Christmas gift ideas. Every year when it arrives, I have a good laugh at the irony,but know that I will likely assist our kiddo in choosing a gift or two from this list.

I often say I don’t like giving lists because I don’t like people to feel obligated, but maybe it’s becaue I like surprises. As odd as it seems to me,  my ex-husband’s list makes my life easier. I know that these are things he won’t buy for himself, and I know that he will be happy with the gift.

Whichever school of thought you belong to – the list or not to list – you’re right.  Gift giving is a tricky business. The gifts you give reveal a lot about you and your relationship with the gift-getter.

I have had wonderful gifts that were also heartbreaking. When I was younger, I was given very expensive gifts of clothing. Clothing that I would never, ever wear because it was not a reflection of who I was. I felt like the giver was trying to tell me to change my image. I know it’s hard to believe, being as fabulous as I am, but I’m a socks, underwear and a book kinda girl. Walking around flashing designer names makes me feel like a dickwad.

Another example of heartbreaking gifts were from a previous true-love-of mine .He gave me wonderful gifts.  All of his  gifts were beautiful, but they were things he knew (without a doubt) that I did not like. Again, they were gifts with a message; change who you are.

Then there are gifts from children. These are not heartbreaking gifts, because they are from children, not adults who need therapy. My very favourite, I-love-this-so-I’m-buying-it-for-you-gift was  from my kiddo. Many years ago,  there was one package under the tree for me. It was a box about 8″x8″x8″. My kiddo would put it in my lap each night the week before Christmas, and make me shake it.  By the time the week was up, he had me convinced that whatever was in that box was abso-freaking-lutely marvelous.

Christmas morning came, and I opened the box. It was filled with….are you ready for this? It was filled with three pieces of plastic fruit; an apple, an orange and a banana. Yes, for a four-year-old, plastic fruit is wonderful, and holds all the potential of a four-year-old’s endless imagination. I kept that fruit in the centrepiece on the kitchen table for two years because he was so proud of having bought me a gift.

Giving gifts you think someone will love makes you happy. Thus the popular saying, ” It is better to give than to receive.”

I offer you a few thoughts about gift giving options;

Gift Cards – can be interpreted as a very lazy way out of shopping for something meaningful OR can be a wonderful gift for someone saving for a specific item at a specific shop

Homemade Gifts – when I was a kid, I always felt a little ripped off with the whole let’s-make-our-gifts. As an adult, I realize how precious those gifts are, and the love that goes in to them. Give me a homemade gift any day. If someone has taken the time to make me a gift, they have taken the time to keep me in their heart.

Boy-Girl-Romance Gifts – I can only give a short list of what women want, because what men want is a mystery to me.  Women love flowers, jewelry, perfume and luxurious clothing (ie leather gloves, beautiful scarves, delicate nighties), and a ‘date-night’ to frame the moment.

Gift of Time – as we get older, and life takes on a constant buzz of obligation, the gift of time is more precious than any. So what if it’s only during the holidays that we make the time?  It’s not hypocrisy, it’s an annual time  to catch up, to stare at the twinkling lights, dream out loud, drink hot chocolate and laugh.

Heirloom Gifts – when someone gives me a gift that belonged to someone special in their life, I feel truly blessed. These gifts say, ‘You are my family of choice.”

Too often I see gifts given because there is obligation. “Do you think this is enough?” I heard this growing up every birthday, Christmas, wedding and occasion.

The question is, does the giver think that it’s enough? Is it thoughtful? Is it within your means? Will it make the person receiving it smile, breathe easier, and feel good?

If it comes from the heart, it is enough.

I guarantee if you cut down on giving gifts you feel obligated to give, and give to those who make your life worthwhile every day, you’ll be a much more fulfilled gift giver.