Archive | January, 2015

A Dad’s Thoughts on Christmas Giving

1 Jan

NOTE: The year 2014 was not an easy one for my family, and December unexpectedly turned out to be the most difficult part of a bad year. What follows is a text about giving that I originally sent to my wife, four adult children, and their (two) spouses. I don’t typically share in-family messages, but my family liked it, and sometimes being a bit more open can itself be a vital part of the healing process. So on December 19 I posted my original text to Facebook, and now I’m adding a copy of it here to go with my New Year’s wish. As for you, gentle reader, I thank you for letting me share my thoughts on giving by reading this, since our thoughts are in many ways our deepest and most personal gifts.

–Dad’s thoughts on presents–

Hi everyone,

Since this has been an unusual and emotionally tough year for all of us, I thought I’d send out some thoughts about presents.
The first is that gifts don’t matter — we do! A caring hug from a brother(-in-law) or sister(-in-law) means far more in a time of crisis than any gift, so shouldn’t that also be true when we are joyfully celebrating having each other at Christmas?

The second is that the cost of a gift doesn’t matter — it really is, as they say, the thought that counts. Real gift giving is never a competition, it’s an expression of your own heart, and no one else’s. What really matters is only this: Does what you are wanting to give make your heart glad? Does it say “I care about you and I want you to know it”? That’s what makes a true gift!

The third thought is that if we do feel a need to compete with each other — hey, we’re a competitive family, there’s nothing wrong with that admitting that! — then the way we should compete is in kindness, not cost.

For example, you might give a simple hand-written card expressing your thanks for something another family member did that helped you get through one of our several tough times this year. That’s an amazing and spectacular gift… and if the truth be known, the cost of looking hard enough into our own hearts to admit how much we’ve needed others can be far higher than anything as mundane as transferring some numbers around in a bank account.

My fourth and final thought is that we should try as hard as we can to make each other’s giving as easy possible. That mostly means that if you are thinking about giving a gift that someone else might also give, check with them so they can avoid buying the same thing. Joint gifts can be a great idea in such cases!

But mostly, let’s try to encourage each other to give whatever gifts, tiny or maybe not so tiny, will let us feel satisfied that we’ve expressed how we feel about each other and our family. For some of us with tight budgets that can mean taking advantage of something like Secret Santa to help keep costs down. For others it can mean everyone else taking joy in their ability and willingness to give gifts to everyone.

But however we give, it’s worth keeping this in mind: The freedom to give freely is itself a gift, one we can give to each other by doing nothing more strenuous than taking joy in the ability and willingness of others to give.

— Dad Bollinger, for Christmas 2014
THU, DEC 18, 2014, 11:08 AM