There is a nobility to that central aspect of the holiday season, gift-giving. Everyone loves opening presents, but the core of the activity is the giving.
The time spent waiting in line at stores or scrolling through websites is (almost) over. The inevitable screeds about commercialization of Christmas have been written. So now it’s time to celebrate our offerings.
There is the care that goes into selecting the perfect item, just the right shirt or dress or electronic gadget. We’re looking for and often find exactly what the recipient needs, a knowledge that can win the day even over vast sums of money. There is the expectation of the happy surprise that the gift-getter will display, a reaction to the fact that you know and care for them as much as you do.
Expense doesn’t have to be part of the equation. There is the laudable ingenuity when a gift is made by hand — from the carefully polished carving to the questionably symmetrical macaroni necklace from a child.
There is the artistry and perfectly communicated sentiment of a well-written card, either carried in a jacket pocket or sent with stamps from worlds away.
There is the virtue of giving what you can, even if at times you worry that you can’t afford to. If you can’t, there is the present of time or affection or kind words. And there is the societal glue of charitable giving, when you might contribute even without knowing the faces of those who will receive, just that they’re in need.
And most poignantly, perhaps, there is the unadulterated joy of children getting ready to open presents from Santa or parents or family or friends. There is their excitement at the appearance of something high on their list. But there is also the way that they can be happy with whatever is wrapped or bagged and placed in their hands. And though they might be thrilled with the new, the perfectly chosen present, that’s not really what’s most important for them. Ultimately, they can take comfort in the obvious truth that that they are loved. The feeling of togetherness and affection is a present all its own.
That’s worth celebrating and remembering 365 days a year.