Why Gifts Matter
by rosie lovoi
Heading into December, and the full-on holiday season, can be daunting for a lot of reasons, but one of the most simple and often over-looked is the idea of giving gifts. It’s hard to determine who, what, and when; the risk of hurting people’s feelings by not thinking of them or of giving something that is unappreciated or goes to waste usually leaves me at such a loss that I try to just hide out until it’s all done. But this year I’m trying to ask myself, what’s the point of giving gifts in the first place?
Recently, I thought of a story I was told when I was little, though I can’t remember where. Maybe it was at school, or from my parents, but it went something like this: a husband and wife want to buy each other special surprise Christmas gifts, but neither has enough money to do so. Each one decides to give up something special of their own so that they can get the other a present that’s really meaningful. But what they each give up leaves the presents useless: the man bought beautiful combs for the long hair that the woman donated, and the woman bought a quality chain for the heirloom pocket watch that the man sold. While obviously they’re each disappointed that the gifts can’t be used like they wanted, by the lengths they were willing to go to for special gifts, they realize just how much they really care about one another. (With some quick Googling, I found the story here; it’s called “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry.)
Okay, let’s just say it: this story is really, really cheesy. It could be easy to dismiss just because it comes across as so overly sentimental. But the message behind it is this: the point of giving a gift is to show the person you care about them – nothing more, nothing less. Sure, we all know it’s fun to have something to unwrap, and you might sometimes feel obligated to get something for the grandparents you aren’t close with. But at the heart of it, you give presents to show someone that you care, not so that they can have another thing.
My family always laughs about a story from a few Christmases ago. I have three siblings, and we all get way too excited about presents for each other. We’re really close, and it’s fun to see what we all think the others would enjoy. So my little brother has a great sense of humor, he’s definitely the comedian of the family. I wasn’t sure what to get him, until I found one of those knit hats with a knit beard attached. I was so excited; it would look so funny on him, and it’s practical, and we all knew how much he loves a silly present. I told my older brother and sister, and they both agreed it was perfect. For the next few weeks leading up to the holiday, we hyped the hat up like crazy. We kept telling my little brother how much he’d love this present, that he’d definitely crack up when he opened it, that there’s no way he’d guess it beforehand. He was so anxious to open it, sure that it was as good as we said. When I handed it to him, we all sat giggling in anticipation of his reaction. He pulled it out of the bag…and just sort of looked at me. We were all like “don’t you love it?!” and he just answers “actually I don’t really think these are that funny.”
Now this response could have totally ruined the morning, but instead it just made it funnier. We had made way too big of a deal out of this stupid hat, but the flop response was even better than if he’d loved it. We just laughed all morning about how funny we thought the hat was, forcing him to put it on. He was completely unamused, but he could at least appreciate how much fun we got out of it, and the fact that I thought I was getting something he would like. For us, the focus was on the enjoyment of watching each other’s reactions, and the fun in seeing what each could think of for the others.
For me, it’s easy to get gifts for my family. The hard ones are for other people, like friends or extended relatives. For some people who are less close with family, that might be reversed. But no matter who you struggle with, it’s helpful to remember the (really cliché but true) message from the story: you’re getting someone a gift to show them that you care about them and appreciate their presence in your life. It doesn’t have to be the world’s most creative present, or something they guaranteed don’t have, or an experience that will change their life. You also definitely don’t have to put a ton of your own resources into the gift (no need to donate your hair or family heirloom, unless you want to). It just needs to be something that shows them that you thought of them and wanted to put in the time and money to let them know they matter. Gift giving doesn’t need to be a stressful part of the holidays, dealing with difficult relatives and gross weather is bad enough. So keep in mind why people matter to you, and let it guide you to meaningful gifts for the people you care about most.
Rosie Lovoi, Author
Rosie is a member of the Gold Hand Journalism Team
Hi!! My name is Rosemary - Rosie for short - and I’m one of Gold Hand Girls’ new bloggers! I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but moved to Indiana to study at the University of Notre Dame. Of all the things in the world, I love reading the most, but after that probably comes anything sweet (see picture for proof). I’m beyond excited to be writing for Gold Hand Girls. Spreading support for creative girls is so important to me, and I’m thrilled to be part of that mission. Stay tuned for posts on cool girl bands, books, and more!
Averi Campbell, Graphics
Averi is our Creative Director and a member of the Gold Hand Creative Team
Averi Campbell is an art student, multi-musician, and all around music enthusiast. Any indie garage band or badass girl band puts her in a daze, and that sound has carried over into the music she creates herself. Music and art have played a huge role in her life and she is very fortunate to have encountered so many fearless and driven women, both in the arts and music industry, all which have impacted the woman and artist she is today.