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Jan 31

Christmas Reflections – Part 1: A truly Intended Gift

A truly intended gift – For those of you that know me, you will know that I’m really not a fan of what I refer to as “celebration artificiality”, which in my opinion applies to all holidays and anniversaries. However, I find it to be even more amplified during the current period we call the “holiday season”. This artificiality encourages us to give presents through force of habit or obligation in order to look good or simply to avoid feeling guilty. Have you not, like me, at one time or another made a list of all those in your circle of friends and family, making sure that you don’t forget anyone, whatever your personal affinities towards them even in cases where there were none? Does giving a gift to all without exception come from a desire to give or rather from the feeling that you have an obligation to do so? The height of this absurdity can be illustrated for instance, by management at work giving the same gift to all their subordinates without exception, even those they don’t appreciate at all, to ensure that no-one feels left out.  How does the most appreciated person in the group feel in this case? Why give a gift to those we don’t really wish to? Doesn’t this manner of non discriminative giving interfere with our real desire to show appreciation to those we truly like?

Another situation deserving as much ridicule, is when we try to justify to ourselves the importance we grant to one or another of the receivers according to the monetary value of the gift itself, as if they were capable of differentiating among themselves and thereby understanding the importance ascribed to each individual.

Finally, is there anything more artificial than giving a gift voucher or cash? Can we really, honestly, say that we have made a thoughtful effort at trying to please the person concerned? This parody is even more apparent when in some cases we receive a gift voucher or cash of equivalent value from the same person , which is absolutely absurd!

So under these conditions of general hypocrisy and guilt, is it possible any longer to differentiate between an obligatory gift and a truly intended one? In some cases based on our relationships with friends and family, it may still be possible to differentiate between the two. It would therefore be wrong to affirm that all presents given at Christmas are devoid of real meaning or that they are solely motivated by obligation. This year, I have myself received a few presents from my immediate family, which were evidently full of meaning to them as gift-givers. Nevertheless, the only gift that I consider to be a real gift is one that is truly intended, a gift that can certainly be given on such an occasion as Christmas but that takes its full meaning from being given simply because there is a desire to do so. This is why I rejoice whenever I am given a gift for no reason or particular underlying pretext; just heartfelt intention. So don’t wait for next Christmas or another specific occasion to give your next gift to someone that matters, do it whenever the feeling arises and notice how satisfying it will feel.

As an alternative that may alleviate any possible ambiguity, I suggest giving the gift of self; the gift of your time. That way, unless you are a hypocrite or ill-intentioned, this gift will probably be appreciated to its true value. For more on this subject I invite you to read my Christmas reflections follow-up in a few days from now where I delve more deeply into the gift of self.

Until then, I wish you all well.

© 2011, Jacques Dufort. All rights reserved.

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