The Meaning of Gift Giving
If you’ve ever asked the question: “Why do I even give gifts to people?” then this is worth a read.
Now, I LOVE Christmas and I love giving presents to people, especially when I know it’s something significant and unique to them. But sometimes I ask myself “What’s even the point of all this?” - I give you something for your birthday, then you give me something for my birthday and then at Christmas everyone gives everyone else gifts and you end up with a whole bunch of stuff that you don’t even need! Then you’re sitting there thinking, “I could have gone and spent all that money on things that I actually like and need”. The more you think about it, the more pointless the gift economy seems.
Well, dictionary.com defines a gift as:
- something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favour toward someone, honour an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.
So, when we give someone a gift at Christmas, we’re honouring the occasion of Christmas – the gift is more for the holiday than it is for the person. We are celebrating the tradition, the culture and each other.
Most importantly, a gift is something given without the expectation of anything in return. Therefore, when someone is upset when they don’t receive a gift from someone they have given a gift to, means that the gift they previously gave wasn’t a gift at all but rather a payment. Having this mindset about gifting will more often than not guarantee feelings of thanklessness, devalue and wastefulness.
Each of us has things that we like, want and need, some of us lucky ones also have the ability to acquire those things ourselves once we identify them. This brings about the problem of what to get those that already have everything they need.
The meaning of the gift isn’t necessarily the meaning that the giver thinks it is, but what it means to the receiver. So how do we find a gift that really means something? For someone to value a gift it should be something they like, want or need, right? So if they already have everything they need and want, we as gift givers must look elsewhere for something that they will like but they didn’t realise that they wanted or needed.
For the receiver to really value the gift, it must reflect their identity, individuality and uniqueness. A gift that reflects these things communicates the message that they are understood, accepted and loved by the giver. This is how a gift can be sentimental; it is for this person specifically and only this person. It explains why we say “It’s the thought that counts.” – because the gift isn’t necessarily the item itself but the idea or thought that went into acquiring an item that is specifically for them.
To give so that we receive is pointless because we may as well just go shopping for ourselves. We give because we love and to love is rewarding for everyone.
Giving is an act of love. The more we focus on gift giving as a way to communicate a message, improve relationships and love one another the more meaningful the gifts will be.
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