As I drove through a nearby shopping center this past weekend, I watched the masses hurry in and out of the department stores. Those heading in had various looks on their faces. Some with determination and focus as if they were on a serious mission. Some with stressful looks as if they had no clue what they were looking for or what to get. Those who emerged from the stores heading to their vehicles after making their purchases seemed to have looks of relief, contentment and excitement. Perhaps, some even felt accomplished having completed some major shopping a week before Christmas.
The presents that were bought may have been for family, friends, coworkers or even someone they do not even really know too well (think White Elephant gifts). Isn’t it interesting that some of us invest a lot of time (and sometimes, money too) in search of finding something that we hope another person will like or appreciate? What if we didn’t buy something for someone else? Would we cease to have a relationship with them?
Of course not. So why do we do it?
While the custom of gift-giving goes all the back to the story of Jesus’ birth in the Bible when the Three Wise Men brought gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh, it has evolved over time. There is no denying there is a lot of commercialization associated with the holidays these days.
Hear me clearly.
I am not advocating for no presents this holiday season. I am not condemning or criticizing those who want to give things to others.
Whether you choose to deal with store crowds or spend countless hours doing online shopping, buying presents for others at Christmas can be a wonderful thing. After all, it is exciting as you anxiously anticipate the recipient’s response when they open his or her gift.
Tears. Laughter. Surprise.
Each gift purchased has a price (don’t forget to remove those price tags or stickers). The price is not a measure of how much we like or love another person. What is more important is the significance of the gift. The significance is indicative of the level of connection with have with others. It is indicative of knowing their likes and dislikes as well as their needs, wants and desires. The significance is a result of observations, conversations, and not so subtle hints.
It is also important to recognize and understand that some of your family and friends may prefer your presence over your presents. However, to know that requires you to spend quality time with them. Observing. Listening.
Presence is priceless. It is how memories are made and cherished. It is selfless. It is kind. It can be the most valuable gift you ever give to another person not only this holiday season, but throughout each year.
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