Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Mindful Gifting (From Sunday musings…)

Me: “How’s our Christmas shopping going?”

Mrs. bingo: “Well, I’m not too sure.”
Me: “Uh oh.”

Sound familiar?

In the Western World, at least in the U.S. and maybe Canada, the “Christmas Season” has become in many ways more about shopping than about giving, don’t you think? Especially now as North America slowly crawls out of 6 years of economic doldrums, as rank and file citizens dust off the cobwebs sealing their pocket book and spend a bit extra. No data to share, just a feeling.

Time was when Christmas (or Hanukah) rolled around the excitement centered more around the gathering of family, and to be sure around the rel!gious meaning of the day. You’d spent the preceding weeks getting excited about being home. As often as not thoughts of gifting and gifts became actionable a day or two before Christmas rather than a day or two after Thanksgiving. Your buy, your gift, was a response and a result of an inner conversation about the recipient, not a reaction to either advertising or cultural momentum (like Black Friday).

Nope. When you thought about gift shopping you really thought, deeply and hard, about the person to whom you would give that gift. What makes them tick? What is it about them or their life that makes them (and you) smile? At this time of year I find myself, along with Mrs. bingo, thinking an awful lot about what the people in my life want rather than what they might need.

That sounds funny coming from me, huh? The “want vs. need” guy. Here’s the thing: a gift-giving time like Christmas is one time when we can help those we care about have a little something that they want, but maybe know they shouldn’t get on their own precisely because they do understand the difference between want and need. In order to do that you, the gift giver, must take the time and make the effort to know the gift receiver well enough to figure out that gift that, rather than making them relieved, might make them just a tiny bit happier.

In the end the real gift that you are giving is of yourself. Your time. Your care. Your love. In order to give this kind of gift it is necessary to do more than shop. When you decide to really give a gift rather than simply shop for one, what you are really doing is telling that person that you see them for who they are. You’ve taken the time to know who they really are. That you do, indeed, like and love them, at least for Christmas, just for who they are.

Otherwise, it’s just a trip to the mall.

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