Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Thought That Counts

So if it really is the thought that counts, why don't we mind thinking about gift giving more - and more often? I think, in a particular, snotty materialist culture, we're really kinda afraid of giving gifts - wrong size, wrong color, last year's model, doesn't fit, isn't compatible, don't like it and say so, secretly don't like it and actually resent having received it!

Let the thought count for the first 24 hours, and you've got it made. Wallow in the care, no matter how little actual care is there. We don't need to weigh every ounce of care. That it is there is enough, most of the time.

But then, don't be so afraid, I would say. There are ways to nuance gift giving to encourage courtliness and good manners and a modicum of gratitude. Don't press. Don't insist each and every person open their gifts right then and there in front of you. Don't watch them like hawks for their reactions that may, honestly, have to be acts, partly, to be gracious and grateful. Such aggressive gift giving reveals the gifters own insecurities - and may press the buttons of the recipient's insecurities and sensitivities as well.

And what is this with, more and more it seems, gift givers insisting they be told exactly what you want? If not having you spell it out for them or even get it for them to be reimbursed (!), they lay in such heavy hints (needing obvious clues), and it sort of spoils the whimsy and grace of so many gift giving situations.

Gift givers do best when they've done a little (or a lot) of rather sly and secretive homework. Gifts are about showing you know the person, at least a little, in addition to showing you care about them. So gift givers, come up with useful and enjoyable but not entirely agreed upon things or even predictable things.

Showing thought behind the thing itself accounts for not just some but MOST of the grace behind a gift.

It is the thought that counts.

2 Comments:

At 12/15/2005 7:32 AM, Anonymous rq said...

You know I have a real problem with giving and receiving gifts. I just think there are other ways to express love. Why encourage our materialistic society to become more and more materialistic? Enjoying each other's company, playing board games, singing Christmas carols, something, anything. Help me here.

 
At 12/15/2005 9:19 AM, Blogger Lawrence said...

Yes RQ, I think there ARE many other ways to love, and I think that is what much of my posts here are about. But in our species, gift giving is universal, and so it's something to consider and, if one feels so inclined, to do well. Like anything, it takes insight and practice. The grace of good gift giving is about the thought behind the gift. As I've tried to say here, it's about the gift giver's thinking about the relationship, and it works best if that thinking is manifested in an attractive and positive way in the gift itself, both the object or offering and the presentation.

 

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