When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there? – Thich Nhat Hanh
Here are some shocking statistics on holiday gifts. About $16 billion were predicted to be wasted on unwanted gifts in 2017 holiday season in America alone. 1 in 2 people dislikes at least one gift each holiday. (Source: https://www.finder.com/unwanted-gifts)
Do you realize how much waste of energy and time that is? So many meaningful things could be done with that money and time by so many people. I recently conducted a poll in a group that I am a part of and the top 3 holiday stressors were money, relationships, and shopping.
If we are spending money on unwanted gifts for people we are stressed to meet in the first place, there is something to be looked at and changed.
But before that let me share a story about a time when I received a gift that I immediately threw in the trash.
A Birthday Gift That Ended In Trash
It was my birthday a few years ago . One of my acquaintances (after this incident I do not know if I should call them friends) gave me a gift basket. My primary love language is receiving gifts.
Of course, I was very excited to receive it. As I opened it, I happened to find a love note from another friend to this friend in the basket. Ta-DA! It was re-gifted!
I took a deep breath in and let go. This was the second time, I had received a “re-gift” with a note inside from the same person. I unwrapped the basket.
I decided to let go of the re-gifting thought and took the products out from the plastic to see what they were. At this point, I was still into the gift.
I have a habit of reading at the back of the product to see the ingredients, etc. This was a bath products basket and it was Made in China (which is fine because what is not made in China these days?). But it came with a warning. “Throw this product if you get urine infection after using it.” WHAT????
I looked at all bath products I use and none of those had that warning. I took the basket, sighed and threw it in the trash. For a person whose primary love language is gifts, a gift this unthoughtful on her birthday is a horrible mistake.
Yes, the thought counts. But a thought would have been enough if there was no thoughtfulness involved after that.
I worked for a fabulous company that made high-quality fragrance and bath products. I know first hand it takes a lot of stress on people who work in gift industries to make sure they put gifts in the retail stores on time.
It is a pretty stressful time as much as I remember when people are striving to get those holiday orders in.
With all this background, all I could think was that this gift was a terrible waste of time and energy of the entire supply chain.
Now you might be wondering what a love language is, so here is a small introduction before we move forward:
Five Love Languages
In The Five Love Languages book, author Gary Chapman outlines the 5 ways that a person may express and experience love. Everyone has a primary and secondary love language. He uses examples from his counseling practice, as well as questions to help determine one’s own love languages.
The list of 5 Love Languages is as follows:
- Receiving gifts
- Quality time
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
His theory is that people have specific ways in which they receive love and usually use the same ways to express their love. If you pay attention to how people love to communicate their love, you might be able to understand their expectations better.
How can we be more present in this holiday season?
1: Learn and use love languages as a guide to picking gifts
If you take the time to notice people in your lives, you can discover their love languages. Maybe they are giving you hints by doing something nice for you quite often.
Maybe they give you compliments all the time. Maybe they like to hold hands or touch your shirt or love a blanket or scarf or velvet. Maybe they are always planning activities to spend time together.
We are growing to be a generation of less attention span. But at the same time, we are moving to be a more mindful generation as well.
When you are more aware of our surroundings every moment and have an intention of understanding your partner, loved one, child, friend or colleagues love language, you will, of course, find it.
2: Add thoughtfulness to your thought
When you give a gift to a person, it shows that you care about them. That is a nice thought. Now go one step ahead and be thoughtful. Ask a few questions to get clarity on your gift for this person:
- What does this person remind you of?
- What difference have they made to you in your life?
- What would help them feel special with your gift?
- Do you really want to give them a gift and go through all this process?
- Are they really that important to you or is this really another check mark?
3. If not sure, ask!
If you have not been present too much and not aware of this person’s love languages and you still want to give them a gift. Ask if they have a gift list they can share.
You can look what they like on their social media pages, Amazon wish lists to get hints. You can ask their close friends or relatives if you know them.
4. Keep essence of the season in mind
If you are getting too worked up, about giving gifts, stop. Remember the essence of the season. It is not about gifts.
It is about the celebration of life. It is about counting your blessings. It is about remembering what you are grateful for.
There are times when you might not be able to give gifts to everyone you know. In those times, let your actions and your presence be the greatest gift.
Smile. Make people smile. Give compliments. Show them that you care. Be there.
Remember, people do care about how you make them feel. Most importantly, remember your children are watching how you treat your relationships.
Materialism is secondary. But if you have decided to re-gift, then all I want to say is, please remember to remove the old tag!