I love Christmas. I love presents. I love the whole month. Also, my birthday is in December, so that’s an added bonus. My husband starts to panic around mid-November and for good reason. After I spent a couple years with him as “the perfect girlfriend” I decided it was time to let crazy out of the bottle and show him who I really was. No more, “Oh my gosh! I love them,” when he gave me doohickeys to hang Christmas stockings on, or a mixed CD of his favorite music, or weird hats from Urban Outfitters. I had a “come to Jesus meeting” with him and gently but directly… laid it all out. I didn’t want what he wanted to give me. I wanted him to give me what I wanted. Do you feel me?
I told him I needed quality stuff: not the gift-giving equivalent of last minute homework when you stuff your term paper full of nonsense just to get your word count up. I wanted quality not quantity. (I mean, if quantities of quality happened under the tree, I wouldn’t complain.)
I wanted him to give me lovely presents because he loves my presence.
Yes, I am equating “things” with worth. Yes, I think this might prove I have the depth of a wading pool, but when I get a pair of boxer shorts wrapped up crappy, I feel crappy and like I don’t count.
This decision to tell him what I needed from the whole present giving experience was liberating. It felt just like the time I decided that I wasn’t going to have sex in cars anymore. Nope, if I was worth taking out, then I was worth a mattress. I had my boundaries.
But back to Christmas; so my husband, GOT IT. He still panics but he is not trying to avoid gift giving. He wants to do it proud, and he KICKS ASS. On my end I have also improved (since it’s not a test anymore of how much he values me). I can come out and say, “Hey, you know what I want for my birthday?”
But this holiday season, since my children are older and I am not working as much, I thought it’s time to clean up my own behavior and adjust my motivation.
As I said, I love the hedonistic thrill of it all, which can be pretty far removed from the true spirit of Christmas. To be honest, in past years I have gone so overboard that my kids GET BORED opening presents and wander off to play. To help me refocus and (hopefully) balance out my approach I asked myself, “What is the meaning behind the gifts I give to my loved ones?” Here is what I came up with:
1. Joy = in their delight
2. Thanks = for their presence in my life
3. Acknowledgment = I want them to feel valued and appreciated by me.
If I dig a little deeper, I find the real impetus for meaningful gift giving is a desire to give them a part of myself; it’s essentially a manifestation of my love for them. So that is what I want to ground myself in this holiday season as I make, gather, and yes … buy.
I want to remember, as a world-renowned doctor once wrote:
“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.”
What do you think motivates you in your gift giving? Do you feel loved and appreciated by what you receive? Do you love the holidays or dread them? I want to know how you are handling all this. But most of all… I want to wish you…