The Joy of Gift Giving

Each year, the adults in my family (which numbers 8) draw names at Christmas Dinner to see whose stocking they will fill for the next Christmas. In my family, the stockings have always been the best part of the holiday tradition and the part we look forward to the most. Instead of opening them at our respective houses each morning, we bring the stocking we have filled for our person and we open them together before Christmas dinner. We keep a price cap on how much you are allowed to spend to make it manageable and also to challenge those of us who like to get creative with our gift-giving.

This year, my brother-in-law has my stocking and I lucked out and have my sister. I say lucked out because (1) she’s really easy to find gifts for because we’re pretty similar, and (2) she appreciates creativity, so homemade stuff – even if it doesn’t turn out so great, is always welcomed. As witnessed by the knit hats I’ve done in the past for my brother-in-law and brother.

Now, here’s the thing. I’m a knitter. I’m actually a half decent knitter. But for some reason, every time I go to knit a hat for someone for Christmas, things go horribly awry. There was the skull cap I did for my brother one year that was such an abomination that I could not NOT give it to him despite being lopsided on one side and the front stopping halfway down his forehead. It was hideous. But each Christmas, he takes it out and wears it while opening his gifts, or shows up to Christmas dinner wearing it. Mocking me. I can’t see that hat without breaking into hysterical laughter. Two Christmases ago, I was feeling brave and decided to knit my brother-in-law a hat of his own. That too, did not go well. Too short. So when you roll up the brim it was above the ears. Last weekend, he, my sister and the kids went out to chop down their tree on a frigidly cold and windy day. My sister made sure to take a picture of him wearing the hat. He looked ridiculous. And it made me laugh. Those two gifts didn’t go as planned, but they’ve provided years of entertainment and some good belly laughs and I figure you can’t put a price on that.

I thought of this as I have been purging items from my own home. There are a few things that I have not let go of despite not using them much. These are items I hold dear. Things that have a place in my heart. They are small in number (thankfully) but continue to bring me joy.

I’ve realized this is something I need to be cognoscente of when I start my shopping for next year. Will the item bring some kind of value to their lives? Is it something they will use? Something they can consume, enjoy, make good use of, hold dear. That seems a far better gift strategy than to mindlessly give them something that is likely to sit on a shelf or go in a box, drawer, closet and be forgotten about until it is swept away in clean out, unused and forgotten.

What about you? Do any of you have a particular gift giving strategy when you’re shopping for family/friends?



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