A heads up – there’s 45 shopping days until Christmas. Or thereabouts. We might want to start thinking about it.
We might also want to start thinking about the difference between giving and gifting this Christmas. Because it can make the difference between great joy and deep despair, between love and loathing, a good Christmas and a crap Christmas.
For example – a loving hubby buys a state-of-the-art Dyson V15 Detect Absolute vacuum for his wife for Christmas. Price tag of $1549. It’s an animal of an appliance, a thoroughbred. But hubby’s measuring his feelings for his wife in dollar terms, in brands, in appliances. Bad call!
“A shitty vacuum,” was her response. “Why? Just why?” Sobs and more sobs. “How can he love me when he thinks a vacuum cleaner is what I would want for Christmas? Or my birthday. Or any present.”
So hubby spectacularly misjudged his wife – he doesn’t really understand her because she hates housework and she was expecting something meaningful. A great vacuum but a bad ‘I love you and understand you’ present.
‘Buying’ a present involves giving something useful – ie hubby’s vacuum. But ‘gifting’ tugs at the emotions. It’s truly meaningful, thoughtful, considered. I read somewhere that to ‘gift’ is to let someone know they matter enough that you’ll spend time seeking and finding something that suits them…a little piece of yourself that adds to their being.
A couple of examples…and it involves two siblings trying to ‘out-present’ each other.
A woman cherishes a photo she has of herself with her son. So the son commissions a talented artist friend to draw the photo, which he has framed for Christmas. The woman was overwhelmed by the thought, consideration and effort.
The sister sensed something special going down. So next Christmas she delivers.
She remembers her Tauranga-based father telling her his heart and soul still lay in Dunedin – his hometown. So the daughter commissions a photographer friend to capture an image of the city in one of its typically cranky, dark, brooding moods. Then she fashions a frame from old kauri floorboards rescued from her first home renovation. The father says he can’t walk past the photo in his hallway without the emotions welling. A ‘gifted’ gift that keeps gifting.
Another media friend remembers, fondly or otherwise, her first Christmas as a married woman. She can’t recall the ‘gift’ but she does remember it was wrapped in a copy of the BOP Times. So it does have its uses apart from the crossword. The newly-married man thought it was very funny. So I suppose that constitutes ‘gifting’.
A favourite Christmas story is a wife giving the husband half a dozen gifts on Christmas morning. He’s appreciative, puts them aside and forgets to open them. Wife is a bit miffed and a few days later gathers them up, puts them away and gives them to him again the following Christmas, still in the same paper. He didn’t notice a thing. Two Christmases for the price of one.
Mavis’ aunty would buy up large at the $2 shop every Christmas. A cousin collected all Aunty’s useless gifts for 20 years. “Then one year cousin on-gifted all that rubbish to me for Christmas thinking I wouldn’t notice. Bloody cheek.” This is the same Mavis, who, for two decades, has given another cousin a soap-on-a-rope for Christmas. “Just to annoy him.” Nothing is ever said, except when Mavis goes to stay, there is always a soap-on-a-rope hanging in her shower.
I take perverse pleasure from my worst-ever Christmas gift. I bought my brother and his wife in Nelson a set of coffee mugs personalised with my photograph. “Perfect,” he said later. We share a sense of humour. His in-laws, who watched as the mugs were unwrapped, don’t share. They were utterly bemused. They called me “egocentric” and a “wanker”. Lovely!
There was the eight-year-old who got a dish towel for Christmas. He is still having therapy.
Then this. “I got a Lamborghini calendar for Christmas. My brother got a guitar and amplifier. My two sisters got a bike each. I now hate Lamborghinis.” The damage caused by an ill-considered Christmas present…
A bloke gave his girlfriend a kit to fix scratches on her car. Another boyfriend gave his girlfriend cooking utensils for Christmas. “Nothing says I love you like some large spoons!” she said.
You think you’ve found someone who knows you, cares for you...understands you. Then they rip your heart out with a breathtakingly-inappropriate Christmas present.