’Tis the gift-giving season again

Who does not love gifts? More precisely, who does not love the anticipation of a gift and the element of surprise? Christmas is coming; ’tis the gift season again, so embrace yourselves.

I am not against gift-giving. Let me clear this out. I enjoy receiving gifts and relish offering them to my beloved ones. There is a long tradition of gift-giving dating back to ancient times as a gesture of gratitude for hospitality. We offer gifts to signify our thankfulness, love, appreciation, and admiration. 

The problem stands in the culture that has been encircling the concept of gift-giving, as this has been shaped in the last century and especially the last few decades with the rise of consumerism.

Christmas ’tis the major gift-giving season of the year. Droves of people flood the streets, rushing around after work or at the weekends, desperate to find as many presents within one day as possible, so they can tick this off their Christmas list. We are engulfed with the stress of buying something. The focus is on the quantity instead of the quality or, most importantly, the purpose of the gift. People expect to receive Christmas gifts. And we dash to buy things.

We starve for momentary enthusiasm and neglect to ponder the present’s intention and role in our life. Figuratively and literally speaking. Most probably, this item will occupy physical space in our flat or office but also mental space in our head. As the years pass by, we end up with stuff we never asked for, never used and didn’t really need in the first place. Visual and mental clutter. The things we receive often weigh us down with their presence instead of adding to our life. 

Look into your gift-receiving experiences and ask yourself how often you have felt authentically happy with a present? How often do you use the things you have been offered? Have these gifts honestly had a positive impact on your life in any way? Why do you still hold on to them?

After my pregnancy, I received a simple and inexpensive gift from two colleagues. It was a gift bag including an aromatic candle, a face mask, a babble bath product and chocolates. Taking into consideration how drastically a woman’s life change with motherhood, let alone the first months postpartum, they offered me this gift acknowledging the importance of self-care to a new mother. This present provoked feelings of real happiness and appreciation for their thoughtfulness. Every single product that was in that gift bag was not only used to the fullest but also added to my life. This gift served its initial purpose by offering me a valuable experience and responding to a real need.

Gift-giving, let alone Christmas gift-giving, does not have to be a dreadful, stressful and laborious process. On the contrary, should a purchase be meaningful and deliberate, offering a present can be a worthwhile experience. ’Tis the gift-giving season again, fear not.

2 thoughts on “’Tis the gift-giving season again”

  1. Hello Ioanna,
    your discursive essay was so amazing that our English teacher took it as reference in one class before Christmas. Congratulations!

    1. Hi there Isabelle,
      It makes me utterly happy to hear that this essay about the gift culture ignited some thoughtful conversations. Thank you for sharing this!

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