11/29/13

Gift Giving . . .

There is a cliche in a remote sub-culture of nomadic sheep herders of Romanian lineage that now live in the western suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio that, when loosely translated in to English, says "Gifts are hearts and souls on sticks." I know - that makes NO sense. But here's what does make sense . . . these crazy wool farmers think that gifts are an extension of the heart.

And you know what? While their culture origins are false, their anecdotal wisdom is true. Think about it - what is the last really, truly GREAT gift you received. And don't say it was your newborn baby 22 years ago today - I'll actually drive to wherever you are and backhand you, politely, with a leather glove. No - seriously. What is the last AMAZING thing someone just gave to you - special occasion or not? You have a mental picture of it? Good.

Three questions . . .

1) Who gave it to you?
2) Why did you love it so bad?
3) How much time do you think the person spent picking the gift?

I'd be willing to bet that in almost all cases the person who gave it to you is someone that you share love with (a parent, child, spouse, etc.) and you love it because it was intensely personal and well matched to you (something to extend a collection, or empower a passion, or ignite a new fire) and I would bet, finally they either spent a TON of time or NO TIME AT ALL.

Let me clarify that last one . . . if gift giving is a heart on a stick that means it comes with love and giving with love either means it is an AUTOMATIC gesture (you know "exactly" what they want or need) or it is something that takes LOADS OF TIME (you will take great pains to get it "exactly" right).

I got some amazing Hanukkah gifts on Wednesday. They were perfect in every way. Before that, the last really, truly amazing gift I got was my Roku. It was Christmas, 2011 (my last Christmas). I had picked it out and essentially bought it myself but receiving it made me so intensely happy I can't even explain it to you. The last spontaneous (without my prompting) gift I was several years earlier and it was a piece of glass art that I still own and cherish.

I would like to think I'm a good gift giver. I like to take the time and pick things out (of course I'll take the automatic route, when possible) and get it just right/make it special. I am sure that not all of my gifts are really home runs. Candidly I would accept that a good number of the gifts I think are exactly right leave the recipient just sort of wondering what the heck I was thinking. I can and DO nail the card though - every stinking time. And mixtapes. My mixtapes are fantastic.

I was actually thinking Wednesday, as I opened my Hanukkah stuff, how the quality and "spot on"-edness of gift giving ties directly back to passion . . . after all passion is a form of energy and great presents takes energy. When you are early on in a relationship, it seems so much fun and so effortless to give gifts. You listen so closely to everything someone says. You take cues. You process. You value. You reciprocate. Then time starts going by. Maybe you don't listen as closely. Maybe you don't pay quite as much attention. Maybe you stop noticing that your husband switched brands of golf clubs or that your wife no longer likes that particular brand of luxury purse. Perhaps your brother already has that Stephen King book. Your sister doesn't even like 1Direction (that much) any more. You get what I'm saying.

I guess the point is that there reaches a time in any relationship where the idea of giving gifts or presents . . . an extended heart on a stick . . . becomes less fun. It gets old. It gets maybe a little boring. You get too comfortable. You stop trying so hard. They stop trying so hard. Before long your presents reflect your lack of presence.

Moral of the story - listen to the sheep herders and give better gifts. Doing so implies that your heart is on the stick and your thoughts and energies are in it.