01 December 2016

Little Gifts

As the season for gift-giving comes upon us once more, we start to think a lot about gifts, those we're going to give, and those we're going to get.  As we grow older, hopefully, we focus more on the former than the latter, though that isn't always the case.  In the eyes of many people, gifts follow a simple rule:  the bigger the better.  Speaking realistically, though, that rule is far from valid.  In my life, I've found that the most important gifts that I've given and received have been the small ones that have special meaning.

When I sit at my desk and work, I always have around me plenty of small gifts that I've received from friends and students.  They do a great job of reminding me of people who have been a very important part of my life, and because they're small, they can go with me anywhere and I can keep plenty of them.  The memories of the people and the times I spent with them are much more important to me than the objects themselves, but the objects have the ability to refresh my memory of pleasant times at just a quick glance.

Even as I write, I see a small inch-high globe that a former student gave me at her graduation, and I remember how good she felt on that day.  I see a small dream catcher made out of colored pipe cleaners, and I remember the day at camp when one of the campers gave it to me as a gift.  There's also a small glass fish that my wife bought me when she was in the Bahamas, and I know how good it felt to know that someone was thinking about me when she was in such a lovely place.

The small gifts are the ones that keep me going, the ones that give me a great feeling inside.  They're the ones that let me know that someone tried to consider what I liked, and what would be most appropriate for me.

The same goes for when I give gifts--I try to find the small ones that are special to someone, the ones that show that I've considered who they are and what they would like.  From time to time I've bought the large gifts, but as time goes on I see that they don't have nearly the effect that the smaller ones do.

When we think about what kinds of gifts we're going to give this season, we always can choose to go for the gifts that are more special rather than the gifts that are more expensive of just plain big.  The most special gifts have nothing to do with money or size; rather, they reflect the fact that we've been thinking seriously about the recipient and what they would truly want to receive.  I would much rather get a small, cheap gift that shows that someone was thinking about me than a large expensive gift that's meant to impress me somehow.

Many people ruin their enjoyment of receiving gifts by allowing their expectations to blur their vision, not allowing themselves to see just how great a gift is because it might not be what they wanted, or it might not be big enough or special enough.  During this holiday season, we have choices to make on what types of gifts to give to others, and finding the very special ones is a great way to make the holidays special.  Likewise, we have choices to make as to how we react to gifts given to us by others, and we can make our holidays much brighter by recognizing how special gifts are.

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