Over the last couple of weeks many of my nearest and dearest have asked me what I would like for my birthday. My answers have varied between, "take me out for coffee" to "pick anything from my non-clutter gift list that I wrote at Christmas" (which included take me out for coffee). I am amused and curious at how this news had been received.
At Christmas time, one person said that my gift wishes were not really gifts because most of them weren't things. This can be tricky to get your head around. I guess some people don't feel like they are giving a gift if they don't give an item. I have been giving quite some thought to the whole subject.
Why do we give gifts? What is a gift?
I have concluded that we give gifts as tokens of how we feel about a person. It is a way of showing our care and love. At least it is for me. We give gifts to celebrate and sometimes just because one feelss obligated to give a gift - this always seems to show.
How we give a gift and what we give comunicate a lot about giver, the receiver and the relationship between giver and receiver.
I think this is why gift giving is such a big deal for me. I like giving gifts. I want the receiver to be delighted with the gift (yep I have tended to put myself through all kinds of mental knots over this one).
Of course I do also give gifts to folks at all kinds of times, just 'casue I love to give. it makes me feel good to bless them - so really it says quite a lot about me, including the silly mental gymnastics I put myself through trying to make sure the gift will be 'special'.
The newest member of our family, my daughter's fiancee, has been a good measure / reality check for me. He isn't used to lots of gifts and whilst delighted has been a little embarrased at times. Last year, aluminium water bottles were on special and I bought one for each of us including him. I gave them with a kiss and a love note. My family were all delighted and put them to use. "the Man" was delighted, but puzzled - he said, "but it's not my birthday or anything" He isn't used to gifts "just 'cause I saw it and thought of you". For me it was an extension of my love for them.
But I certainly have gone overboard way too many times.
Many of the wishes on my wish list are for treats that I rarely, if ever give to myself; like a manicure or pedicure or massage or go to the movies. To receive such things as a gift is special and all the more so if I get to share that time with soomeone special.
Since I have been trying to change my way of seeing it, I have been discovering just how difficult gift giving is for many others (and i thought it was only me). I seem to end up having conversations with folks about gift giving occasions. I actually found it very freeing at Christmas when wanting to give a gift to the person who has everything or who needs so little. What do you give to an elderly relative? or your parents/parents-in-law? Taking someone out for coffee or spending time with them, going to the movies, etc these things are great gifts and don't have to be locked into one day. To receive a piece of decorated paper telling me that I will be taken somewhere or get to experience something makes my day and makes the celebraton last even longer.
Am I alone in my thinking here?
Another thought that I have had is that perhaps it is easier for some folk to just buy a something and hand it over? It may require less of the person, which to me somehow defeats the whole purpose.
I used to have a close friend but sadly we drifted apart as our lives went in different directions. One Christmas she sent a large box of fruit which I thought was a wonderful idea (except that we were going away and couldn't eat it or take it with us so had to give it to other folks) The but comes in that I would have been way more delighted if she had just given me an hour or two of her valuable time for a coffee out together instead of an expensive, impersonal delivery which took her five minutes to arrange over the phone with her credit card. It felt like a gift of obligation not love.
The saddest thing was that I really missed this friend and wanted nothing more than to just be with her and talk to her. I did tell her this, she didn't get it; I think I may have offended her. To her an expensive gift was it and a shared cuppa was a non-gift (even if accompainied by cake). In no way was I rejecting her gift, i just wanted the one thing she couldn't/wouldn't give - her self. That was a few years ago and I still miss her but know that she has moved on.
You have heard my musings, now I will indulge a little more and tell you about the lovely gifts I received.
Darling hubby left an envelope on my bedside table and a cup of tea as he left for work very early. I woke and was delighted to discvoer a lovely hot cuppa (he does this most days and I still delight in it). The envelope contained a card he had made with a sweet glass nail file (I lost my last one :( ) and a hand made voucher for a pedicure - oooow I have been so wanting to get one of these.
My mum gave me money and took me to a craft shop whilst I was visiting her and I chose this...
A friend made and send me this armchair caddy...
Another daughter gave me this voucher with a book tag for "A-Z of Smocking" - the book is on order.
I was smiling all day as each text came in and getting to chat to a few special folk who called too.
All in all I am had a wonderful day and I don't have a pile of things for which I have little need to have to find a way to store.