It recently occurred to me that I had become a giftaplegic.
What in the world? you say.
A giftaplegic is someone who has become paralyzed in their gifting and thus cannot give gifts with freedom, spontaneity, and enthusiasm as they should. Such crippling is not caused by being run over by a swarm of greedy shoppers on Black Friday or by falling from the top of the Macy's escalator under the weight of a bundle of packages. No, nothing so blatant or obvious leaves one a giftaplegic.
Instead, it's the subtle but equally wounding dangers of gift-giving that render one unable to give with joy.
Let's face it; it's just not going to happen. But we keep on trying year after year to buy just the perfect gifts for those on our list.
- the unreasonable desire to have a "picture perfect Christmas"
- the equally unreasonable dream of every person swooning and jumping up and down with glee over the presents you have given them
- the constant hope that you won't have to pull out and use any of those return receipts you stashed in the back of the junk drawer
- and the ridiculous effort to not only get everyone something they will love, but for every gift to also be something they really need and long for.
- In other words, that crazy, crippling effort to hit one out of the park with every gift you buy.
Or I do, anyhow. It makes me feel better about myself to say "we," but maybe you still have full mobility when it comes to gift-giving and you're standing there scratching your head about now.
At first it sounds like a noble malady -- that desire to give the perfect gifts -- but in reality it's all about pride and control and perfectionism.
Oooh! What nasty words!
Year after year my desire to get my family the perfect gifts has left us with few surprises under the tree. By the time the presents have been wrapped and place under the green branches, I've already drilled my family members about what they need, talked them out of the things I don't think they really do need, surveyed them about what is most important on their list and what takes a lower priority, discussed coping mechanisms with them so they can handle the disappointment in case they don't get exactly what they wanted, and drilled them on favorite colors, sizes, and models. There's no surprise element left at all.
And why? All because I'm paralyzed over getting the "perfect" gifts.
Well, no more.
Yesterday I went Christmas shopping without having planned to go. I just walked through the mall and thought about my loved ones. I picked out things I thought they might get a kick out of and bought them. Sure, I still bought a couple of things I thought they might "need", but let's face it, most of us don't really need anything. So I didn't let a low registration on the need meter keep me from purchasing something I thought they might enjoy.
I saved the receipts and stashed them somewhere (I've already forgotten where, but I'm sure we'll find them if we need to) and I'm not going to be insulted or bothered if we need to pull those receipts out and head back to the store for do-overs. Big deal.
I've purchased surprises and surprised they will be. They may be delightfully surprised or shocked with dismay, but by golly they're going to be surprised. Not that I ventured far from their comfort zones. I still got things that had their names all over them, so to speak, but I realize there are no guarantees and I'm ok with that.
So no more paralysis for me. I'm up and walking in gift-giving victory. It feels good not to be bound by the restraints of perfectionism and pride and control. Instead, I'm giving with a joyful heart and a spring in my step!
Anyone else need to be set free from the chains that bind? I highly recommend it.
Labels: Christmas, family, Perspective, relationships