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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Meaning of a Gift.

At Christmas I think it is especially important to remember the true meaning of a gift. I know you probably think you already know what a gift is, but do you really? Ask yourself this: if you woke up Christmas morning and there was nothing under the Christmas tree for you but a lump of coal would you be disappointed, sad or angry?

I bet many of you would be angry. As a society, we have come to expect Christmas gifts. Is this the true meaning of a gift, one that we expect because we think we deserve it? I think not. A gift is something given just because someone thought of you. It is unexpected and when received, no matter what it is, it is appreciated.

Because in my own life, I see that I sometimes forget the true meaning of a gift, I have really been contemplating this lately as I buy gifts for Christmas.  Recently, I heard a speaker who really drove home some points for me that I would like to share with you. 

Here are five red flags that you have misplaced the true meaning of a gift:

1. You make a gift list on Amazon and get irritated when someone buys you something other than what’s on your list. How dare they! Really? How dare YOU! A gift is not something you pick out and say, buy me this. A TRUE gift is something someone else has taken the time to think of, found, and given to you especially because they think you will appreciate it.

2. You buy someone a gift simply because they bought you one. Yes, that’s polite, but that is not the true spirit of gift giving. Tit for tat is not what it’s about. Christmas should not be like a game of Risk. You bought me a gift, so I need to buy you one or my ship is sunk. If someone unexpected bought you a gift be appreciative, but don’t feel you must rush out and buy them a gift just because they bought you one.

3. You judge a person by the amount they spent on you. Naughty-naughty. Be glad there is someone in this world who simply thought of you and be grateful and thankful for that.

4. You use gift giving as a way to make your children behave. I am so guilty of this, but I am really trying to stop this terrible habit. What are we teaching our children if we teach them that if they are good they will get a gift. No, no, no. Gifts are given out of pure love.

5. You don’t realize the best gift is one of time, understanding, love and friendship. Don’t think every gift must cost money. Give the gift of time. Call an old friend, your parents, or your grandparents.

Spend time you don’t think you have with your children, friends and family. You can do it. I spent two hours yesterday playing electronic Battleship with my two young children. It was a great gift of love and laughter that they gave to ME!

Happy Gift Giving!

Julie Johnstone, The Marchioness of Mayhem


  1. Julie,

    You are so right. There are no wrapped presents under my tree yet. There will be eventually for the nieces and nephews and such. For my kids though, this year I am giving them each other. The eldest can't come home from Oregon so my husband and I decided to fly the other two out to her for the break. I've never spent this much on my kids before, but I also haven't felt this good about a gift in a very long time. I just wish I could be with them.

  2. We have cut back on the amount of presents that we give now. My husband and I don't even exchange anything, and we only give the boys a few gifts. The problem is that both boys have winter birthdays, plus we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. So, by the time February rolls around, instead of "Thank you very much", we hear a lot of "What else do I get?". We remind them that there are so many kids, right in their own state, who aren't getting ANYTHING for the holidays. I think it's important to try to have a little perspective. :)

  3. What a beautiful post, Julie! Such a great reminder for all of us.

    I remember as a kid that presents were a pretty big deal, but I was always very grateful for what I got. My parents did a great job of instilling in me the value of a dollar, as well as how important it was to give to those who didn't have as much as we did (and we didn't have much! LOL!)

    These days, I'm still always surprised and humbled when someone gives me anything. Hubby goes out of his way to surprise me with special things he thinks I might enjoy. And I was so touched when my nanny brought me flowers for my birthday. It's the little things :)

  4. Amy,
    What a beautiful gift. I wish you could be there with them!

  5. Olivia,
    I agree totally. Another good way to give kids perspective is to let them work a soup kitchen with you.

  6. That's the perfect attitude, Jerrica!

  7. Julie ~ What a timely blog! :) I read your first paragraph and can honestly say that I do not care if I get gifts or not. Now if someone got me coal, my feelings would be hurt. I'm ok not getting anything, but I'd think a lump of coal was them insinuating that I had been naughty the last year. AND I haven't! :)

    I do buy gifts (and was finished with my shopping on Black Friday - all from the comfort of my couch. No big crowds for me.) I think I only get gifts for people I truly love. And even though there are people in my life who sooo deserve a lump of coal, I'll be nice and not send it. ;)

  8. This is a lesson I try to press on my kids too. It can be hard in today's world for them to understand that gifts of self are better than the latest gadget.

    I'm one of those people though, that really love to give gifts! I like paying attention and picking out something that will really light someone up!

  9. Ava,
    LOL! I so need to start buying gifts from the comfort of my couch!

  10. Deb,
    That's is the perfect gift giving attitude. One where you give truly from the heart!

  11. I'm fairly certain I should get some coal on Christmas! LOL.

    All joking aside, I haven't received a gift under the Christmas tree is almost three years and I'm perfectly all right with it. I try very hard though every year to get my kids something - even when I have to pay the electric bill late. Because there have been entirely too many times that their friends get things and they don't.

    I think sometimes we do expect things but when our lifestyle is threatened we'll forsake anything in order to make sure our families are fed and cared for. And I think that comes from being a parent. T

    There are rough times out there for everyone at this point in the game. I'm just grateful to see so many people still able to enjoy Christmas. And I hope everyone here has a fabulous one whether you get coal or not!

  12. I'm happy to say my teenage son told his grandma the other night when she called that he didn't really need anything for Christmas, because he had pretty much everything he could want. What a gift for me that my child is content with life! I couldn't ask for anything more.

    PS - I can relate to him, too. I can't think of a single thing I want, because I have so much in my life - great family and friends, my health, and enough to live comfortably.

  13. Suzie,
    I hope you get a gift under the tree! I can't imagine anyone more deserving!

  14. Samantha,
    It's so great to actually hear someone say they are completely content with their life. Good for you!

  15. I can't help but buy a gift for someone if they give me one! But I do put thought into that gift, instead of buying a reflexive gift card.