Living in a world where it’s impossible not to be bombarded with advertising no matter where you go, it’s easy to end up opening your wallet to get those things that you keep hearing about and seeing images of. This behaviour increases exponentially during the holiday season when so many of us end up spending much more than we have in order to be included, accepted, and ultimately loved. Unfortunately, based on reactions we’ve gotten in the past, many of us conclude that the love we will be receiving is going to be directly proportional to the amount of money we spend on the gift.
If it was possible for you to give a gift during the holidays without expecting or wanting something in return, including something non tangible like acceptance, appreciation, and love, would you still be as generous?
Daria’s Secret Confession
Daria:It’s been 3 weeks since my last confession.
QB: Ok, what’s been going on since then?
Daria: I just came from running around three hours in the mall and I still have a bunch of people to buy for.
I’m hoping you can help me with something that has irritated me for years and instead of doing what I normally do, I thought you could give me some perspective.
I’ve spent close to a thousand dollars in the last three hours and I will probably end up spending another thousand by the time I’m done shopping.
QB: Do you need help with creating a budget?
Daria: No, I need to NOT feel so shitty about buying expensive presents for my family. I love and care about my parents, my siblings, and nephews and nieces but I have such a hard time with having to give the presents by December 25th. I don’t think it’s fair that I am expected to give presents.
QB: Then don’t buy them anything.
Daria: I can’t show up empty handed.
QB: Why not?
Daria: Because I’ll look like a jerk.
QB: So you’re spending about two thousand dollars just so you won’t look like a jerk, is that right?
Daria: Yes, if you put it that way.
QB: So, don’t go.
Daria: I want to go. I only get to see them three or four times a year. I want to feel good about buying and giving them presents. Right now, and for years, it has felt like a pain in the butt and as a result I get I don’t even want to do it.
QB: Okay, let me see if I got this. You want to go, you want to give them presents, but you want to feel differently about giving them the presents.
Daria: Yes. That’s it.
QB: If you could put those reasons aside, why else do you believe people buy gifts for one another at any time of the year?
Daria: To show them they are special and important, to give them something they need, to make them feel loved, to celebrate them, to show them I care.
QB: Those are all pretty good reasons for giving gifts. What’s in it for you?
Daria: What do you mean?
QB: Besides the credit card bill, pissosity from shopping and sore feet, what might you get from giving someone a gift? Maybe it’s a good feeling, maybe it’s receiving expensive presents in return.
Daria: I have no idea. I do get presents too but I wouldn’t care if I didn’t.. I can buy whatever I need for myself. I don’t get anything from giving a gift.
QB: Tell me what happens when you give a present. Just close your eyes, picture one of your family members. You are in front of him or her…and with a smile, you hand the gift. They take it, open it excitedly, and look at the contents. What do they do now?
Daria: She gets up, gives me a big hug, and says thank you. I love it. It’s perfect.
QB: How does getting that from her make you feel?
Daria: It makes me feel like it was worth running around, fighting for parking spots, standing in lines, and spending the money to give something special.
QB: Does it make you feel loved?
Daria: Yes, in that moment I feel loved.
QB: Daria, what would happen if you gave a gift from your heart and it had nothing to do with the price tag. Would you be loved any less?
QB: Why don’t you test it? With the remaining people you need to get gifts for, buy them something that costs less than you feel to have to spend, or don’t buy anything. Instead, give them a card that says something like, I want you to know how important you are to me and how much I love and appreciate you even though we don’t see each other very often. What can I do for you or give you that would help you know that I love having you in my life?
A few years ago I was making Christmas breakfast. I had invited a few folks including some family members. One particular family member arrived an hour late with a gift in hand for me. Inside the festive gift bag was a disposable Kodak camera.
I found this to be such a strange gift since we already had a real camera. Regardless, I politely said thank you as I felt the confused eyes around me staring at my disposable camera.
Later on that evening, I learned that my brother hadn’t thought about getting me a present until that morning on his way over. For whatever reason, he didn’t consider all the stores being closed on Christmas Day. So he stopped at Seven Eleven and chose the most expensive thing they had in order to save face of arriving empty handed.
I felt more hurt knowing the reason for the gift than the gift itself. If he would have just said I didn’t buy you a gift for whatever reason, I would have been totally okay with it.
If you can’t give from the heart, don’t give at all.
Nobody wants to be an obligation to the people they love….at any time of the year.
Reporting confessions one blog post at a time