I remember when I was a child, acquaintances and relations used to try and curry up favour with my parents by giving me Christmas gifts which they thought the adults would approve of, instead of those I would have really liked. As I grew older, they instead tried to shrug my individuality off, by buying me things which were easy to find and kind of ‘general’, like for example, soft toys or ‘approved’ children’s books.
Later on throughout my teens, most people became even more generalist, giving me things like perfume, bubble baths, face creams, pot puorri and scented candles … really – did I smell that bad?
Seriously though, these kinds of items always made me feel kind of blank and colourless as a person – as though the people gifting me with such things refused to see what I was actually like and what I really would have liked to receive.
Of course, the importance of a gift is the thoughtfulness one has shown in actually giving it. You are important to someone, they want you to be happy and want to show you that you are important enough for them to give you a nice gift at Christmas. After all, Christmas is not all about gifts right?
But if the important thing is knowing that someone is thinking of you, that they appreciate you and want you to know it, wouldn’t a present tailored to your likes and needs, instead of one anyone could give to anyone else, be not only more appreciated, but actually more in keeping with the spirit of the thing? If the idea is that of showing someone how much you care for that person, wouldn’t showing this by giving a gift which portrays how much you know that person and what he or she enjoys, be better than one which merely shows off how much money you have spent? Wouldn’t a home-made item which he/she had mentioned as wanting perhaps, be better? It would very likely cost less and be more welcome than an expensive perfume or a branded item which nonetheless is impersonal and doesn’t have any special emotional attachment connected to it.
With the approach of Christmas, I usually start by making a list of all those I want to show my love and affection towards in the form of a small gift. I try to think hard about what they like, what they had perhaps previously mentioned in passing and what I know they need. If I know that my nephew likes to write and appreciates fantasy novels (I guess that just runs in the family), I try to give him something which I know I would have liked at his age. If, on the other hand, my cousin has just bought a new house and needs kitchenware, I keep that in mind, as I also think about my mum who loves porcelain figurines or a best friend who enjoys Betty Boop paraphernalia.
When one really thinks about it, it does not take all that much of a disproportionate effort to try and match the most well received gift to a specific person. After all, you are not buying gifts for strangers, but for loved ones whom you know well.
In the end, everyone loves a present which has been purchased with a little thought, more than one which has been purchased, perhaps more expensively, along with all the others in some corner store, or hurriedly bought along with the seasonal decorations at a Christmas fair as a last resort.
If it is the thought that counts, the more thought and time you give in trying to understand what a person would most relish as a gift from you in particular, the more that person would actually savour it and be pleased to receive it, not just materialistically, but as coming from someone who is really and truly fond of them and wants them to know it.