Guest Writer Steve Monz, Afternoons on Cool 101.3
Let me explain. It’s the holiday season and every year we all stress over making sure that we have that perfect gift for everyone on our list. And back up gifts in case we get hit with a surprise gift from someone we know, but didn’t know they were getting us a present. I suppose the easy way out is to say “I don’t do presents”. But who doesn’t like to get a present? No one. Everyone loves a present. Therein lies the problem. The pressure to make everyone happy.
For the most part we really don’t exchange gifts at work. Sure some of us do the old “Bottle Exchange” where we swap bottles of our favorite adult beverage. It’s basically a wash. But inevitably there is a moment when someone gets you a gift and you have nothing in return. Happened this year. A coworker got me a very thoughtful gift that they knew I would love. I felt terrible! How could I not have a gift to return the joy. I wanted to run out and grab a Chik-Fil-A gift card to return the favor. But then, I stopped. I remembered that the true joy in gift giving is actually the “giving” and not the “receiving”. (Although, the receiving was awesome.) It wasn’t about me feeling terrible. It was about someone else enjoying doing something nice for me.
The game changes when it comes to family. The focus has always been on the children. Parents, grandparents, just worry about getting stuff for the kids. Maybe you bring cookies or a pie. Some simple sentiment. Well, now that the kids are grown the game has changed again. The kids want cash or gift cards. Ok, probably more practical, but loses the sentiment in my opinion. But here is my point. Why buy something that someone just doesn’t need or want simply to buy them something? I tried to do the old “When I see something that makes me think of you, I will buy it and hold it until Christmas.” Never works. I always say I’ll wait and get it when Christmas comes around. And then I forget about it. Or worse, I do buy it then, hide it and forget where I hid it. I have done that before too.
So, my wife and I have come to an agreement. Why stress over buying stupid stuff for each other and wasting money. Over the course of the year if there is something one or both of us wants, we find a way to get it. So, for Christmas we decided that we would each get the other one gift that is extremely personal. Regardless of price. Something that just makes us think of the other person. So, since this article comes out after Christmas, I can tell you what I did this year. I made a framed photo collage of our trip to Nashville earlier this year. Photos of us in some of the more memorable moments. Didn’t cost much. But honestly, it’s the thought that counts.
“It’s the thought that counts”. I used to think that was a cop out. An easy excuse for not spending a lot. But in reality, as I get older, I do appreciate “It’s the thought that counts”. Things that recall great experiences. Last year I gave my Mom a puzzle of a picture I took of the grandkids in Time Square. A fun reminder of a great day in New York City.
But now I see my gift giving evolution reach another level. Not so much about objects but of experiences. I recently had the revelation that Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday. No stress over gifts. Just family, friends and food. Enjoying the day for what it is. Being Thankful for what you have. And I know there will be people who will say I have not focused on the religious aspect of the Holiday. We all focus on the “reason for the season” in their own personal way. I think I am discovering mine after 52 years on the planet. Celebrating the people in my life, past and present, who make each day a joy.
So, I answered my own question. I am not being lazy not buying gifts.
Rather, I am appreciating things for the right reason. And making the effort appreciate the moment. Appreciating the fact that someone took the time and thought to give me a gift that they knew would put a smile on my face. Letting that person enjoy that moment instead of me stressing over not having a gift in return. It makes me realize that when I see something that I know someone will love I need to act and give a gift regardless of the date on the calendar. Whenever the spirit moves me. So I didn’t forget to get you something, the right gift hasn’t come around yet. That’s what it’s all about. It is “The thought that counts”.
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