3 Realities of Christmas Gifts

December 2nd – 23 more days until Christmas.

By now a slight panic has begun amongst the everyday chaos we already bare. Anxiety over how many gifts we need to buy, what and where we’re going to buy and how in the world we’re going to afford to pay for it all.

Buying for a child is pretty easy, but for an adult it can be a daunting task. At some point you reach an age where all the “christmas gifts” you want you typically buy for yourself throughout the year.

That leaves very few options for gift givers come December.

For years I’ve felt that if giving gifts is all that stressful, then why do we keep on doing it?

And so I’ve come up with three important things to remember about “gifts” and I hope it will ease some of the burden those who’ve over commercialized the holidays have put upon us.

ONE: Most gifts have a short shelf life.

One Christmas, all I wanted was a live-action toy called, “Mr. Game Show”. For the time it was pretty hi-tech (with a high price tag to match). But after begging, pleading and throwing enough tantrums, Santa finally granted my wish.

Mr. Game Show was like having Bob Barker, Pat Sajak and Alex Trebek in your very own living room. And for a kid who was utterly obsessed with world of television game shows, this was like a dream!

But after a few weeks of playing with my very animated friend, I discovered I had more fun with the make-believe game shows I had painstakingly created out of cardboard in the basement.

Christmas gifts will never remain all shiny and new. Eventually they become part of our routine and ordinary. So before you waste your money on some over-the-top present which will ignite some momentary excitement, remember how quickly it will be forgotten.

TWO: It’s NOT the gift, but who GIVES it.

I’ve always been a fan of bath robes – thick and engulfing, not the puny kind that feels as though it were made out of a hotel bed sheet. My grandmother knew this (as she shared the same affection) and came up with a wonderful idea one Christmas.

She got my wife and I monogrammed, his and her bath robes. It was a wonderful gesture and a gift she knew I would happily use every day.

That was close to 15 years ago now, and sadly my grandmother has since passed on from this life. But that bath robe is still hanging in my closet looking almost as good as they day I unwrapped it. While many others in our disposable society would probably have retired such an artifact of clothing by now, I see no reason.

For starters, the robe is still in great condition. But mostly, every time I put it on I’m reminded of who gave it to me – someone who always made me smile and brought an incredible amount of joy into my life.

“It isn’t the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it.”  Quoted in The Angels’ Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

THREE: Your time is the greatest gift you can give.

When my wife’s grandfather was still alive, he spent his later years in a wonderful assisted living facility in southern New Jersey.

While visiting for Christmas dinner, it was hard not to notice just how many people were alone. Yes, they were sitting with new friends and neighbors they had made at the facility, but they were void of their families on a day that’s all about that.

One such individual lived across the way from my wife’s grandfather. She was a lovely woman full of stories and only too happy to welcome your company into her home. I remember asking about her family and she said with a smile, “Oh they were too busy to come down…maybe next weekend.”

I thought to myself, how many other “families” were telling the same thing to their loved ones now confined to an assisted living facility for the remainder of their days? How many others simply put on a smile in order to deflect the pain of feeling alone and abandoned?

Yes, we’re all pressed for time on any given day. But it’s important to remember that people won’t be with us forever – time is not infinite. Save the uninspired presents wrapped in shinny paper and give the gift of your time instead.

Remember, “A hug is a great gift – one size fits all, and it’s easy to exchange.”  Author Unknown

And if you’re still determined to find that perfect gift for someone I leave you this from Oren Arnold:

“Christmas gift suggestions: to your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.”