Friday, December 13, 2013
A time for giving
A commercial playing on the radio these days pitches greeting cards with the following "sentiment" something like: "Dear sister, you remind me of blinking lights on a Christmas tree, really charming, but also a bit annoying." Hallmark (yes, it is a Hallmark commercial) thinks that this card would show your sister how much you cared . . . with humor. Well, I'm not amused, and I doubt my sister would save the card.
That commercial has been playing in the background of my other musings about this gift-giving season. For the last few weeks, as I have done for years, I've been working on a "Wish List" that I can share with family members who wonder what I'd "like". And I've been hounding various family members for their lists. Certainly, I want to make those members of my family happy, and, I suspect, that they would like to make me happy. But lately I've begun to wonder whether satisfying another person's "desires" is a gift. Given the definition of a "gift" -- that it is something freely given to another without expectation of reciprocation, I suppose that most items given from a "wish list" fulfill the definition. But I still wonder.
I recall, several years back, that my sister and her husband agreed with one another that they would only give each other gifts that would "delight" the recipient. I've always thought that that was a fabulous idea. But then, my practical side says, "But if I get the collapsible saw I want, then I won't have to buy it myself!" But while the collapsible saw may be useful, is it delightful?
Giving a gift that "delights" the recipient would demand from me a good bit of thought. It suggests that I know my family member, or friend, well enough to know what delights them. It suggests that I spend time with them, listening to them, paying close attention to what I'm seeing and hearing. It would demand a lot of work. But I suspect that many recipients would treasure that kind of gift more than they might the well-advertised Chia pet or the latest X-Box game.
Hallmark's slogan for almost the last seventy years has been "When you care enough to send the very best . . .". Somehow a card that calls the recipient "annoying" doesn't seem like "the very best". Nor, in my mind, does it be-speak a great amount of "care". I may be wrong, or old-school, but this year, I'll avoid the Hallmark store, and focus more on spending time with my loved ones, hopefully a more thoughtful, "care-full" and delightful, gift.