December 19, 2022
When I opened my email this morning it was flooded with ads for all the latest and greatest gift I could purchase for my friends and loved ones. Some even suggested I skip my loved ones and get the gift directly for myself. One of the better suggestions was from a pizza shop. The beauty of this gift was I did not have to worry about wrapping the present. It would come in a brightly colored box and all I would have to do is order and pay for the pizza, have it delivered, and then wait for the happy response of the recipient (plus tip). While I was not sure about ordering a pizza for my friends (anchovies?), it did make me want to order one for myself.
When I looked online, I found gift giving is not just a way to increase holiday sales. These sales can obscure the traditional reasons for giving a gift at Christmas that illustrates the human need to express thanks and affection. While the motivations vary by individual, there are common themes for gift giving. The biblical nativity story has a significant influence on the tradition of Christmas gift-giving as the Magi brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus in the manger. This gift showed the respect and reverence of the givers and bestowing presents on family members, friends, and the needy is a way of remembering that gift. Christmas presents can be a time of surprise and delight, and once wrapped the giver gets to watch the receiver’s face as they unwrap it (now by Facetime). A gift under the tree provides anticipation for children and allows adults to reflect with nostalgia on their own childhood Christmases. Businesses are more practical and use this time for marketing by giving gifts to promote the company name. For many, this is a time to say thank you to all those who provide services throughout the year. Whatever the reason, each gift can bring joy.
When I was visiting mom over Thanksgiving, my brother and I recalled the gift that we anticipated under the tree when we were young. We went through a phase where sets of plastic army men were our greatest expectation. I later learned for several years these sets were bought the previous year at the after Christmas sales and stored until they were given the following year (I found it one summer). What I did not know is another trick my parents used. One of the catalogue stores had a warehouse outlet in the big city located not far from where we lived. Mom said she and dad would take a day and drive to the city to shop at warehouse prices. This was an early version of the big box stores where a gift may be purchased today.
THOUGHTS: My brother and I talked about how we would sit for hours staring at the large boxes under the tree. We would check and recheck, making sure which gift had our name on it. When mom was not around, we would hold and shake the brightly papered boxes imagining what might be inside. I learned early that underwear and socks do not rattle. Several years ago, it was estimated that over 33,000 (40%) of vulnerable children in the US will not get a Christmas gift. We can feel inundated by charities asking for donations at this time. Research a good charity, get involved with the organization, and consider making a gift. Find your motivation and bring joy to a child who otherwise would have gone without. Act for all. Change is coming and it starts with you.