Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Presents, Presence, and Holiday Spirit

I started a working for a new company in May, and my new office is next door to a major distribution center. Now, I LOVE Amazon Prime. So much so that I'm pretty sure the UPS man knows my address by heart. That said, the nearly 20 minute increase in my workday commute due to extra holiday truck traffic in and out of the Amazon lot had me seriously rethinking whether I wanted to update my Amazon gift list or buy gifts for others from Amazon this Christmas...
Ruby and white sapphire necklace and earrings from India.
In reality, it wasn't the horrid commute that gave me pause. It's the nature of holiday giving that has kept me awake of late...You see, I love to buy gifts for those I love. Thoughtful gifts. Meaningful gifts. They don't have to be expensive. They don't have to be for a particular reason. Indeed, when I find the perfect gift for someone, I'm often so excited to share it that I can't wait for whatever "expected" gift-giving occasion might be next on the calendar. I really do get more joy from the act of giving than I do receiving (not to say that I don't like presents, because I do).
Safety Pin Clutch (Bodhi, found on eBay); red leather gloves (TJ Maxx)
When it comes to Christmas gifts, in particular, those I've found the most joy, the most holiday spirit, in giving have never been items chosen at random from a loved one's pre-selected online holiday "wish list" while sitting on the couch in my pjs. Yes, it's a time saver in our overscheduled lives. Yes, I want to give people gifts they actually want. Yes, I prefer to receive gifts that I actually want. But still, I find it lacking in joy, more like an obligatory spending of some "appropriate" dollar amount to be completed as efficiently as possible than an act of love and celebration. Even creating my own "wish list" seems like a chore (gone are the days of furiously dog-earing the pages of the JC Penney Christmas catalog in hopes my Mom would get my not so subtle childhood hints!)
Plaid dress (Bernie Dexter); Cashmere and sable wrap (Day Furs)
Several years ago, I opted out of a large extended family gift exchange, partly because I wasn't always there for it, but just as much because I felt like it had become a relatively thoughtless exchanging of gift cards. I don't see the point. I care about these people. I enjoy spending time with them at the holidays and I'm grateful for the opportunity. I value their "presence" in my holiday orbit more than any present I might receive from a random drawing of names. We come together for food and fellowship and I treasure it. It is enough.
The rings are costume jewelry, but festive for the holiday season; Shoes (Isabel Toledo)
Still, in other situations, I sometimes find myself furiously searching those online wish lists at the last minute because presents are expected; I haven't found the "just right" gift; and I'm out of time. This is the commercial reality in which we live. At least I know when I purchase a wish list item that it's something actually desired - far better than grabbing a pair of socks from a bargain bin or a box of chocolates from the check-out line just to check the proverbial gift box. But still, it doesn't fill me with the same holiday spirit and joy of giving, and makes me wonder if it wouldn't be better if we all just settled on "presence" rather than "presents" for the holidays, and surprised each other with those "just right" gifts whenever inspiration strikes (and even if it's from Amazon)...
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
You may also enjoy these posts:

No comments:

Post a Comment