From the time I was a little girl I loved giving gifts much more than getting them. This applies to all occasions, not just Christmas.
Why? I love watching the expressions on faces as they open each item. It thrills me when the person’s eyes light up and a smile graces their face. It lets me know that I have chosen wisely.
Therein lies the problem. I love the thrill of the hunt: finding just the right gift for each individual on my list. Flannel pjs for the grandkids? Perfect. New shoes for Mike? Yes.
I leave home with something in mind to search for. If I’m lucky, I’ll find it in the right size and color and at a discount! Yippee.
On the way I might find other things that tickle my fancy but had never entered my sphere of interest. That makes the trip worthwhile. Finding wonderful things to give to the people I love.
I’m not as excited about wrapping as I used to be. In the past each gift would have tied with a color-coordinated ribbon and topped with a bow. I might start out that way, but as time passes and my back begins to hurt, I give up on fancy and go with simply getting the job done.
Since all my kids and grandkids live far away, I have been spared hours of wrapping. I do online shopping and so packages are delivered in brown boxes or green plastic bags. Certainly the excitement for the recipient has been downgraded as there are no colorfully wrapped gifts from me under the tree, but the idea is still there. I have thought of them, chosen something, and had it sent to them.
I also love gifts for myself, but the act of unwrapping them in front of an audience intimidates me. I don’t like being the center of attention, everyone focused on my eyes and lips, waiting to see if I smile.
Interesting dichotomy, right? What I enjoy most about being the giver is what I dislike the most about being the recipient.
One good thing about getting older is that there are fewer opportunities to open gifts in public. For many years now it’s been just my husband and I on Christmas Day. An audience of one.
We work hard to find appropriate gifts for each other. Mike gives hints…but mostly it’s me telling him what to buy me, where to find it, what it looks like, how much it should cost. He’s great at following suggestions. In fact, he loves it when I practically outline for him what would be nice gifts for me. But sometimes he surprises me.
For example we often pass a jewelry store on our walks about the neighborhood. One time I spotted a necklace that I liked. No price was posted so I didn’t know if the jewelers prices were reasonable or not. I never told Mike to buy it, but one time we went past and it was gone. Imagine my surprise when I unwrapped a box and found it nestled within!
When I was a kid my family had an interesting unwrapping routine. Each of us would hold a gift in our laps. At a nod from my dad, we ripped off paper, ribbons and bows altogether. The item was revealed, hopefully appreciated, then we moved on to the next box. There was little giving of thanks or admiration. It was open, open, open.
My husband’s family, however, had a different ritual which we adopted for our family and still follow today.
We each hold a gift in our laps. One person opens their gift, we appreciate it, give thanks to the giver, then move on to the next person. It is a slow process. When our kids still lived with us, opening gifts could span hours with breaks in between to eat breakfast, stoke up the fire, go to the restroom, get something to drink.
I loved it. Instead of the mad dash that I grew up with, there was now a patient revealing. It allowed me to do that which made me happiest about gift-giving: watching the faces of those I had chosen gifts for.
Today I began the wrapping of gifts. My first gifts are for an exchange tomorrow. Each time had to be Christmas-themed and under ten dollars total. Since I am a great sale-shopper, I found awesome things that stayed under the limit. I can hardly wait until tomorrow when the exchange happens.
I then wrapped the gift for the teenager from the church’s giving tree. She only asked for leggings, but she’s getting two books and a gift card as well. Each of them is wrapped and nestled into one large box. I wish I could see her face when she gets to unpackage all those things! I hope she is excited.
During this time which can be hectic, please reflect on how you feel about gift-giving. Which part excites you the most? The hunt? The wrapping? The giving or the receiving? Or maybe all of it!
Online shopping is very tempting for the out-of-staters on mt gift list too. I used to do elaborate wrapping and tried to incorporate an ornament or an item from nature like a redwood cone or a shell, but I’m finding it harder and harder to locate quality ribbon and unusual paper.