Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holiday Ease (Part Three)

Too often, we forget the real meaning of the holiday season. Gift-wise, we’re focused on what we’ll give rather than why we give. It seems we race from one store to the next for quantity rather than quality. Surely, we could make things so much easier for ourselves if we find one great thing for a loved one, something he or she will really love and can use, rather than merely load up on “stuff” for him or her.

I’m reminded of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. The characters, Della and Jim, had little money and ended up giving up their most prized possessions (Della cut her luxurious locks while Jim hocked his pocketwatch) in order buy the other the perfect gift. Their gifts were heartfelt, but perhaps not necessarily wise: Della gave Jim a chain for his watch (even though the author points out that Jim needed a coat and gloves), while Jim presented Della with decorative hair combs. Useless, of course, since those gifts were intended to complement what they no longer had. I like Della and Jim, though, for their desire to please and their willingness to sacrifice. Their gifts for each other came from the heart.

I fear that a good deal of gift-giving today isn’t necessarily from the heart. We merely go through the motions and do it because “it’s that time of year.” Oftentimes it’s accompanied with complaints of cost and the time spent at shopping malls.

We should give because we want to give, not because it’s expected of us. Those heartfelt gifts truly are the best. Think about it as you make your gift list this year. Think about your family and friends and what might make them feel truly special.

That, to me, is the reason for the season.

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