Thursday, May 23, 2013

Giving Good Gifts

I am not very good at giving gifts.

I want to be. I like getting gifts, so I assume people like receiving them as well. From me, even. But I realize there's an occasion for which someone should receive a gift from me and I freeze.

What do they want? I think. How much can I spend on this? Should I make them something? When would I make them something? What would I make them? Why would I make them that when I don't know how to make that and never have made anything like that and it would probably be complete garbage? When will I get it to them . . .

You see where I'm going with this.

What's ridiculous about this is my mom is probably the best gift-giver in the entire world. (Although Lindsey is a pretty close second.) My mom is the kind of person that hears you mention off-hand that you've been thinking that maybe you'll start looking for a good biography of Abraham Lincoln to read, and months later she'll give you one for your birthday, and it will be perfect. (I use this example because this is precisely what happened to my husband on his birthday. I think he mentioned it once back in September, and she sent him Team of Rivals for his birthday in February.) She has a cubby in her room full of things that she saw for someone somewhere and just bought and saved it for the right occasion. (That's another problem I have. When I do find something I want to give to someone, I just want to give it to them, not save it for months. And then their birthday rolls around and I don't know what to get them.)

But the coolest thing to me about my mom's gift giving is that it doesn't stem from the fact that she loves to shop (although she does). When my mom gives me a gift, it's so clear to me that when I talk to her, she listens. She internalizes what I say, stores it away, and then she uses her secret ninja knowledge to buy me the perfect present months later. She gives me things that I want, but she knows what I want because what I want is important to her. Because she loves me.

The gifts are not important. The love is important. And when you really care about someone, and you make an effort to listen to what they need, you will know how to give them what they need from you - whether that's the perfect birthday present, a note of encouragement, a listening ear, or a hug.

I may not be as good at figuring those things out as my mom is, but I've got a great example and a lifetime to practice.

No comments: