The Art of Giving
It’s the season of giving and receiving. We’ve all lived long enough to know that some of us are better at giving and receiving than others. And you’ve all been reading this blog long enough to know you’re a captive audience of what’s basically a collection of my opinions. Buckle in.
Most of us were taught at a young age to be graceful receivers – we unwrap a gift, exclaim with glee (real or fake, it doesn’t matter), and thank Aunt Melba profusely. She did, after all, put a lot of effort into choosing that gift for you, wrapping it, and remembering to bring it today.
But…did she? Did she put a lot of effort into that gift? Or at some point did gift giving – especially for extended family we see during the holidays once a year – become an obligation and a chore? Think about it. How many givers do you know who stop at the drug store to buy a gift on their way a party then stuff that gift into a gift bag with tissue paper? That’s obligation, friends. That’s not thought and effort. And that’s not what gift-giving is meant to be, don’t you think? (I’m by no means bashing those drug store shoppers. Time crunches happen. People have trouble remembering each and every important date. I get it. I’ve been that person. I’m looking at you, serial offenders.)
Even for close family, how often are you buying for someone who’s impossible to buy for because they don’t need anything else? How often are you receiving something you don’t need and is just adding to your clutter? I’ve written before about all our stuff and how freeing ourselves from it can be life-changing. There are, after all, an average of 300,000 things in our homes already. As parents, we say every year at holidays and birthdays, “Our kids don’t need any more stuff.” Yet more stuff comes. Even the most steadfast of the clutter clearers struggle to stay on top of all that stuff.
Speaking of holidays, did you know the average American spends nearly $1,000 on Christmas? Gifts, decorations, all the trimmings…$1,000. That’s just the average. How many of those gifts are bought by clicking on wish lists or to make the kids’ gifts fair? How many of those gifts are genuinely thought-out, bought with the person in mind and with intention? I’m not suggesting we make our holidays more complicated; I’m suggesting we make them more intentional. Do you remember what you gave your family last year? No? What does that say to you? Does that say you gave them meaningful, intentional gifts, or does that say you gave them gifts just to give them gifts?
Lastly, if you can’t afford gifts – if you’re charging gifts – don’t buy them. There is no shame in telling your family that things are tight and you can’t swing it this year. I guarantee they don’t need any more stuff, and you just can’t afford it. Put on your adult pants and let them know. There is no reason to be paying all year for stuff they don’t need. I get that you want to give. It feels good. Bake cookies or something. Give in a different way. Give yourself the gift of financial freedom. You can’t give meaningful, intentional gifts with money that isn’t yours or that you don’t have.
So there’s my holiday piece. Try to be more intentional with your giving. Always be a good receiver. And most of all, squeeze some enjoyment from your holidays. They only come once a year.