The Art of Giving

14 Dec

I know the meaning of the season but for those who aren’t necessarily religious, I hope you take less offense to these more secular thoughts. Is there anything wrong with being specific with what you would like as a gift? I have an Amazon Wish List. Thus, if you want to give me a gift I make it quite clear what I want. It’s said that it’s the thought that counts. Well, maybe I’m being a bit of a grinch but I likely don’t want or even need something if it’s not on my list. So your thoughts should be of my list!

I make it easy for family and friends by providing a well-balanced (items and price) list of things that I would really appreciate receiving. They are wanted or even needed. I can’t be the only one out there who feels like a regular uninformed gift is not desirable. It takes merely a few moments to look on my list. Besides, we all know that those unwanted gifts end up in a re-gift pile. I certainly hate having to keep up with who gave me a gift I didn’t like and making sure that they don’t get it back from me as a gift to them.

I no longer like to stockpile gifts. It’s one thing to keep something on hand as a quick gift to an acquaintance. Sometimes in those instances you get caught in a situation where a gift is appropriate and its absence is just rude. I recommend and in the case of my immediate family, I require them to have an Amazon Wish List so that come holiday or even birthday time I can send or personally give them something they want and will love versus the stab-in-the-dark-buy-something-solely-based-on-what-they-may-like thing. Indeed, one can go wrong with doing even that. I like art but do I want to receive a picture or a piece of art as a gift? No. In matters of decor I like to do it myself.

I know people are generally well-intentioned but I do think it is certainly helpful if you make it easier to provide you with a gift you actually want and not something that I guessed and hoped you’d like. Then that turns into the common situation of politely smiling and thanking them for the gift and then having to put it in a re-gift pile or bury it in a closet.

Let’s just make it easy on everyone involved and provide a list, like a child would for Santa Claus. Ever since I’ve gone to enforcing the required list for my immediate family members we’ve all been much happier with the gifts that we’re given. Often times I see them using the item (even if it’s not for very long as in the case with a workout dvd). No longer do we have to fake our expressions when opening the nicely decorated box as our heart excitedly knows it’s something we want. I actually feel really bad when people get it wrong and I have to pretend.

Some people like the art of guessing what someone wants but that’s really so hit or miss (mostly miss). It’s kind of like that knit sweater that granny made for you but you’ll never wear in public or the impersonal and generic for him or for her store-bought gift set. You’d prefer that they didn’t give you anything. Even if you don’t do an official wish list (although there’s little reason not to), you should at least find out specifically what they want. They’ll be a great deal more excited and appreciative of it. Sadly, in the case of co-worker gifts I tend to lean on the side of generic, as they may not necessarily be real friends with you outside the office.

And despite my complaining and commentary on the art of giving, I do think that when it comes to Christmas the best gift is in spending time with the people you love. The most wonderful and meaningful gift are the ones that can’t be bought. But if you do buy, buy what I want and not what you think I want.

I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday and even though we’ll all likely break our New Years resolution before the end of January, I do hope that 2012 is a great year for you!

This article appeared on page 5A in the 12/14/11 issue of The Union-Recorder.

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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in The Union-Recorder


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