Giving is one of my love languages. I love giving. I love picking out gifts; I love planning gifts; I love being generous. It’s no surprise then that Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. However, for several years in a row I found myself dreading Christmas because I always ended up disappointed.
You see, just because giving comes naturally to me doesn’t mean it comes naturally to the people I love. And just because they may not be good at giving doesn’t mean they don’t love me. They just show their love in different ways. I used to get upset because internally I would find myself saying “How hard can it be? I spelled it out for them… I’m so easy to pick things out for.”
One of the first years in our marriage my husband gave me a pair of slippers for Christmas. They were isotoner slippers or something of the sort — I don’t remember the exact brand. I couldn’t believe out of all the things I was interested in and all the things I would have chosen to splurge on he would get me house slippers. I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t handle the reception of said slippers very well. I was ugly about them. To this day, he remembers the rejection of a gift that he felt was thoughtful — I was always complaining about my feet being cold — slippers would be a great idea. To me, they were something that a Grandma would wear and not anything I would have picked out for myself if given the chance. I felt like he didn’t consider my interests or taste at all and I was hurt, so I hurt back. My husband still worries about gifts he chooses for me because of how poorly I handled receiving that gift so many years ago. They say hindsight is 20/20. I wish I could take back my actions.
The point is, we (and by “we” I mean “I”) need to stop being greedy and selfish and think about what gifts really are. They shouldn’t be a requirement, but something given as a token of something bigger — a relationship that is worth so much more than a gift under the tree.
I guarantee you something about this Christmas will not be picture-perfect. I may not get anything I painstakingly put on an Amazon wishlist to make things easier for my family. My kids will probably spend part of the day being ugly to each other, because that’s what they do. Maybe one of the gifts I thought was so perfect when I picked it out turns out to be a “dud” – obviously passed aside for something bigger and better.
I’m encouraging myself more than anyone here – but maybe this is something you struggle with too. When you lower your expectations and don’t expect things to be perfect, it’s amazing how much better you will feel. Who cares what my gifts are? That cliche, “It’s the thought that counts” really is true. Will my day be perfect? No. I’m probably going to have to keep my sarcasm and eye-rolling at bay. But can I still enjoy the magic of Christmas? Can I embrace our time spent with family? Can I do my best to make others feel like I appreciate them? I hope so.
Let’s take time to enjoy the little things this Christmas – silly family traditions, kids still at home that won’t be for much longer, noisy toys that might drive us crazy that the kids love. Remember to celebrate what’s most important to you — family — and to appreciate all the little things that make our families unique. Those are worth so much more than any gift you will find under the tree.