During the holidays, I normally donâ€™t give or receive gifts. The reason isn’t because Iâ€™m all bahumbug but because, for me, thereâ€™s something very awkward about feeling the pressure to give or receive something just because itâ€™s December and itâ€™s something weâ€™re supposed to do. I donâ€™t like feeling forced to participate in that and wouldnâ€™t want anyone I loved to feel the same.
Instead, during Christmas I focus on spending time with friends and family, writing notes and sending cards. Itâ€™s the rest of the year that I focus on giving the unexpected gift.
The unexpected gift is something I give when people least expect it. For instance, a friend who has been sick I get them a massage and another who is often of her feet might get a pedicure. Iâ€™ll see a box of chocolates and know a woman whoâ€™d love them just as I know my book-loving friend might love something I just read. If a friend has been stressed Iâ€™ll look after her children for a day or Iâ€™ll offer to take her out for coffee and cake to just listen (the gift of time is always underrated). There are other friends I hardly get to see so Iâ€™ll take them away on a trip or send them on a plane to visit me and thereâ€™s my girlfriends at the store for whom I bring in treats once in awhile because thereâ€™s nothing like unexpected cupcakes to make girls swoon! Then thereâ€™s people I donâ€™t know but whose blogs inspire me so much that Iâ€™ll send them something from their wishlist as a Thank you for posting.
In giving the unexpected gift, there is less pressure for both the giver and receiver and thereâ€™s more time to enjoy the act for both say in June than on December 23rd. For me, this became really important after I began to feel more and more stressed about the holidays and how commercial I felt they had become. I didnâ€™t want to keep complaining without doing, and so I decided to stop buying and instead, start enjoying the time. Iâ€™d make it up in September by doing something personal for someone else instead.
What Iâ€™ve noticed about giving the unexpected gift is that the person that receives it seems to acknowledge it and enjoy it a little more because they donâ€™t feel as though they have to â€œcompeteâ€ or buy something back. Thereâ€™s no â€œok, they got me this for the holidays â€“ now what do I give back?â€ The unexpected gift seems to have less strings attached and, to me, thatâ€™s what a gift is all about.