I love presents. Maybe you shouldn’t have, but I am so delighted you did!
Cole loves presents. He tears off the wrapping paper, disregards the bow, and rips open the box. A squeal of delight and a big hug follows. It’s never been about, “Did you bring me a present?” It’s all about, “Oh WOW! You brought me a present!”
Joe loved presents. He would savor the wrap, look at the package, shake it a few times, and exclaim, “Oh, come on. Is this for me, really?” He would then open the package with great deliberation, and upon opening, pronounce it the best gift ever. He would then set the gift on the coffee table so he could look at it. His Father ‘s Day Gillette shaver sat on the living room table for almost a month while he admired it before its first use.
A long time ago, I gave a present to the three-year-old daughter of a friend. She tore off the wrapping paper, pulled the toy out of the box, and turned around and threw her arms around me exclaiming, “I have wanted one of these my whole life!” I later found out she already had the toy. It comes as no surprise that this toddler, now a high school senior, has a talent for the theater.
Lately, I have tuned in to conversations about appropriate gifts, as in gifts that “send the right message” or how to guide family members and grandparents towards the “right gifts.” What? Huh? Oh, and then there is the minimalist, organic trend towards not giving presents at all, or giving the presents meant for you to a less fortunate person. You’re killing me!
I just don’t get it. Yes, we are more fortunate than many, and certainly we should teach our children how fortunate they are, but it makes me a little sad when a seven-year old would rather have me write a check to Haiti than give him a birthday gift. It does give a parent bragging rights, though. “Jimmy asked for donations to Haiti, instead of presents for his birthday.” Joe and I coined this, “parenting for an audience.” I have a better idea: Jimmy’s parents can write the check to Haiti while I wrap a Dora Doll or Avatar Na’vi Mountain Banshee Creature.
Birthdays and holidays are great gift occasions, but it’s also fun to give a “just because” gift, just because gifts are perfect to give to your friends. By the way, it’s not just the thought that counts, so pay attention to your friend when they talk about their favorite post-a-note color, or a certain cooking spice they are dying to try.
Then there is gift disappointment. If you have not already worked this out in therapy, and are over thirty, please get over it. Joe gave me shoes as presents. He did not buy me a wedding ring. However, one afternoon he handed me an Irish Claddagh ring as a “just because” gift. My claddagh ring is a “token of his friendship and love.” I gave him coats and hats. He never needed them, but he always loved them.
Teach your family early on that yes, you do want gifts. Often. Fortunately, my mother never tells me, “Oh honey, I don’t need anything,” but instead says, “I would love this new mascara.” My dad is harder to buy for, but now that he has a Kindle, Amazon’s gift certificates are our oysters. Oh, and when a family member gives you a gift? Love it. Just love it. Try it on, talk about it. If there is one rule about gift-receiving, it’s “Never ever open it later.” It’s better to exchange a present if you are not going to wear it or use it. If you are always exchanging gifts, the problem is probably yours and not the gifts. “I’m saving it” never fools anyone. It means you hated my present.
If you want to make me happy, accept my gift with excitement, open it right away, tell me you love it. It is blessed to give, divine to receive, and impossible to have one without the other.
Do you want a present? Let me know on Facebook or in the comment section.
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