During the holidays, I normally don’t give or receive gifts. The reason isn’t because I’m all bahumbug but because, for me, there’s something very awkward about feeling the pressure to give or receive something just because it’s December and it’s something we’re supposed to do. I don’t like feeling forced to participate in that and wouldn’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. It’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. I’ll see a box of chocolates and know a woman who’d love them just as I know my book-loving friend might love something I just read. If a friend has been stressed I’ll look after her children for a day or I’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 I’ll take them away on a trip or send them on a plane to visit me and there’s my girlfriends at the store for whom I bring in treats once in awhile because there’s nothing like unexpected cupcakes to make girls swoon! Then there’s people I don’t know but whose blogs inspire me so much that I’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 there’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 didn’t want to keep complaining without doing, and so I decided to stop buying and instead, start enjoying the time. I’d make it up in September by doing something personal for someone else instead.
What I’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 don’t feel as though they have to “compete” or buy something back. There’s no “ok, they got me this for the holidays – now what do I give back?” The unexpected gift seems to have less strings attached and, to me, that’s what a gift is all about.