Did any of y’all read Marla’s article last week about the thieves of joy? She talked about how you shouldn’t let negative situations steal your joy.
I found myself bobbing my head in sympathy as I read her article—mostly because we’re dealing with similar situations over at the Carollo household. It seems that one thing after another keeps piling on and it’s really kind of a holiday buzzkill.
On top of the furnace not working and the backflow device freezing and holding eight of my friend’s hostage at my baby shower because it made leaving my house impossible, I’ve been dealing with the pressure of gifts and gift giving.
You know how it goes. You set a budget, you have a list of people to buy for and inevitably both of those get blown out of the water as the month progresses. I feel the need to reciprocate every gift that’s doled out to me and my kids in some form or fashion.
Then there are the hostess gifts for the numerous Christmas parties (look, I don’t mind forking over $20 for wine, but I can’t even partake right now, so I can’t honestly say I’m doing it in the right spirit).
And should I even get started on the helpful relative who demands a list from you and yours, but is quick to assure you, “Oh, but you don’t need to get us anything…”?! Well, thanks. I mean, it might not be a Rolex, but you’re related to us. Give me some credit; I was going to do something, even if it’s just a compilation of crafts the girls have done over the last few weeks.
Now, telling me not to buy you something has made me feel bad about the meager gift you were gonna get. (Full disclosure, your assertion of “Oh, but we don’t want you to get us anything…” only makes me defensive and puts an even bigger damper on my holiday spirit).
Which brings me to my main point: Why do we give gifts? Does it really need to be this stressful? Honestly, the Christmas shopping I enjoy the most is when we go get toys for Toys For Tots because I don’t have to make sure I’m spending the right dollar amount or getting a gift for someone just to make things even.
When we’re shopping for Toys For Tots, it’s one hundred percent about the giving of happiness to some little kid I don’t even know. When you do things like that, you experience the genuine happiness of completely taking yourself out of the equation and doing something nice for someone else.
For me, the perk with Toys For Tots is that I get to do something nice for kids, who, let’s be real, are truly the ones who are filled with a sense of wonder and magic this time of year.
But if buying toys isn’t your thing, you can still experience the joy of giving a million different ways, especially this time of year. Give a buck to the people ringing the bells in front of Fred Meyer; help fill the truck at Walmart; buy some canned food and fill the bins at the store; donate coats to a homeless shelter; shoot, volunteer at a retirement home. Anything!
Giving of yourself and your time when there is no expectation of return is the best gift you can give or receive because when you give of yourself, you’re showing love, which I have a sneaking suspicion is the reason we give gifts in the first place.
I know I might come across as a pious know-it-all, but that’s not the case. I don’t think you need to eschew all gifts and gift giving to experience the true meaning of Christmas.
I just want to throw it out that there that as we’re giving gifts to our family and friends, we need to not get lost in the commercialism or competition of it all.
If we give a little of ourselves to others from whom we expect nothing, we might all be blessed with a little more Christmas spirit than we would otherwise have had.
I know I sound like an after-school special, but try it out. Tell me if it’s not the most filled-with-the-spirit-of-Christmas that you’ve been in a long time.
Disclaimer: As I type this, Ans is watching Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas and it just got to the point where Mickey and Minnie are living out an O. Henry Gift of the Magi-esque storyline. I’m not going to do a plot summary, but if you’re unfamiliar with the story, basically the message it tells is that objects don’t matter, the real gift is having someone to love and who loves you. You should check it out, it’s just a short little story and even if you’ve read it before it’s a good reminder about what gift giving is all about. Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. There are free editions online.
Giving of yourself and your time when there is no expectation of return is the best gift you can give...