“A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.”–Seneca
The Seneca quote reminds us that it’s not the gift that counts but the thought behind it. One of life’s little pleasures is to thoughtfully choose a friend’s gift. Having a good friend means we know what she or he enjoys doing and having. Perhaps the friend has been dropping subtle hints about something she needs or wants.
Some of us do our holiday shopping early, very early. I usually choose special gifts during Christmas in July sales. That means I don’t have to fight the crowds of last-minute shoppers.
One of my former roommates was one of those tardy shoppers. It’s not that he was thoughtless, Craig was simply absent minded. He was that guy at the convenience store at ten-PM on Christmas Eve looking for anything that could pass as a gift. One Christmas, Craig gifted me with a bag of “Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows”. Craig thought I’d like them because I once told him that my high school nickname was “Jet”. At least my gift was not something regifted.
“The threat of Christmas hung in the air, visible already in the fretful look of passersby as they readied themselves for the meaningless but necessary rites of false jovialities and ill-considered gifts.”–children’s book author, Peter Dickinson
One of my cynical college buddies, Randy, refused to participate in society’s annual gift-buying ritual. He did send out greeting cards to a few select classmates and friends. The cards were the same cards each year. It was agreed that for each friend, there would be two cards. For instance, I’d send him the card he sent me the prior year and he’d send me the card I sent him the prior year. So, on alternate years, we’d receive the same cards from each other. Those two cards, to and from Randy, were the most memorable holiday cards ever. When Randy moved to Provo, Utah, we lost track of each other. The card exchange ended after I sent him one card, but the other card never came back to me again. I miss that special form of regifting.
My old roommate Doug was a notorious regifter. In fact, he made a point of evangelizing the virtue of recycling gifts. He had his friends and family vow not to spend a lot of cash on holiday gifts for each other. Gifts of food or cash were encouraged. The best gifts for Doug were nice, but not too expensive presents that were suitable to bring to the department stores’ returns counters or that could be regifted. I don’t like to regift, so a basket of his favorite food items was perfect for him each year.
It was fun to watch Doug when it came time to re-wrap the recycled presents to his family and friends. One year, he recruited me to help with the chore because my gift wrapping skills were much better than his. I’ll never forget the time he asked me to wrap a gift set of exotic teas that he received from his sister the year before. He told me to wrap the package especially well, because the teas would be his present to me. By the way, the teas were very delicious.
“Thanks for agreeing not to buy each other anything for Christmas and then making me feel guilty by buying something anyway.”–anonymous
One year, my sister asked if I wanted anything in particular for Christmas. I replied that I didn’t care if she got me anything or not. As the family unwrapped presents, there was nothing for me from Deb–and that was OK. She got up and left for awhile, then returned with something hastily wrapped for me. I carefully unwrapped her offering. It was half a bag of “Blue Diamond” shelled walnuts. That was the most memorable gift Deb has ever given anyone.
It’s too bad that the walnuts and the Jet-Puffed marshmallows were gifted in separate years. Otherwise I could have prepared some type of desert bars with them to immediately regift.