Each year I make a list of who I want to give Christmas gifts to, check it twice, and spend several weeks sorting out who should get what. I try to make the gifts meaningful, because I usually only give gifts to those who have played had some important role in my life that year. I also usually don’t get gifts for people who I won’t see during the holiday season, with a few exceptions.
I really don’t care if I receive any gifts. I mean I really actually do not care at all. This is not to say that I don’t appreciate the thought behind gifts, but more often than not the gifts that I receive just clutter up my life (“oh – a photo album! Wow… that will go perfect next to the other six I got from you. Yeah.. Wow thanks. Yeah…”).
In general, if I get a gift for someone, they will feel pressure to get me something in return. Furthermore, sometimes getting a gift for someone one year sets up a pattern that must be repeated in the future; I don’t like making someone feel they have to get me a gift just to keep the score even.
Some friends give clear messages about receiving gifts. For example, I got Sasha a bithday gift this year, and her response on receiving it was, in short, “what is wrong with you people and your gifts!” Despite the unexpected harshness of this message, I took it to be a no-nonsense indication that Sasha doesn’t want gifts from me anymore, and that’s fine. I’d much rather get a message like this than make Sasha feel like she needs to start buying me gifts.
Maybe thinking about it this much betrays the point of the holiday season.
The important part of this season is not the receipt of gifts, nor is it giving them. The season, to me, is about the spirit in which we give gifts. It’s an ackowledgement of those around us and the roles they play in our lives. That can be accomplished easily without wrapping paper, scissors, or tape.
Merry Christmas everyone.