Saturday, January 15, 2011

January Love

I'm always so late in sending Christmas gifts. Mine usually arrive sometime in the new year. If it's a good year, they will be shipped before January is done. In a bad year, I might finally send something in July, or hand the presents to my nieces and nephew when they arrive for Thanksgiving. You probably think I'm exaggerating, but I'm really not. I'm usually too overwhelmed in December to manage the kind of organization required to choose, wrap, box and mail gifts on time. It's all I can do to make sure the people I will actually be with, such as my husband and children, are covered.

And so I find myself ruminating in January, trying to match the person with the gift, and trying to hit the right level of gifting. If you're shipping a gift, then it has to be something more than if you're handing a wrapped present to someone on Christmas morning. I'm starting to grasp how I arrived at this particular mathematics of gift-giving, one that keeps me stalled for weeks. It plays out like this: I will buy a gift for someone, and then it will sit there as I imagine that person opening the box and finding just this small thing, so inadequate, not one of many presents under the tree, not part of the party but a tardy guest who must now atone for the late hour.

And so I go out and buy another gift to add to the first, and this takes time, because I have to think about the person, in this case the three families worth of loved people in Virginia and Maryland who have yet to be gifted by me, and I have to come up with something as targeted as the first gift, something that isn't a throwaway but truly matches who that person is trying to be. It's easier for the grown-ups, they don't care really. They don't even have to get a gift, truth be told. But their children. I want their children to feel that I honed in on their hearts, to feel the thrill of what's inside the box, inside the festive wrapping paper in January, arriving all by its lonesome, missing all the hectic glory of Christmas morning.

The irony is my own children appreciate without question or calculation any gift that arrives, more so the love of the gifter. So why do I not permit my relatives who live at a distance the same grace? Why do I allow guilt to settle itself next to January love all wrapped up in Christmas paper?


  1. Oh. This is why I hate gift-giving. But once, when I was Christmas shopping and moaning and weeping, I ran into a very wise woman I know who told me, "You can't prove your love with a gift."
    She is right although we always feel like we should be able to.

  2. Ms. Moon, you are so wise. You cut right to the chase. This is just what I needed to hear.

  3. Better late than never! I feel resistance at Christmas time too. Historically gift giving has been a rather recent development. How it evolved into the materialistic guilt fest that it is today I blame capitalism.

    I like to give though and if unexpected presents show up randomly during the year, so much the merrier.

  4. indigodog, welcome. this is a better way to think about it by far!

    thanks for visiting and commenting.

  5. Angella, you put far too much pressure on yourself, my friend. People love YOU and all that you add to their lives. I have only known you for a relatively short time and only through our blogs, and to me, you are a gift to my soul. Fill the boxes with trinkets that are fun and then lots of love, no guilt. Really, people want to know that you care and that is so apparent in all that you do.

    Love and hugs,

  6. So much pressure, self-induced for the most part, though there is a place in my life where I have never gotten it right. A gift, the heart of it, is a symbol of love, is it not? Another area where I believe joy is the intended purpose, not tying ourselves in knots. I am still learning.

  7. The gift giving practice is certainly a stressful time !! Sometimes the real meaning of love is lost in the whole affair and isn't that a shame!

    Keep on writing. God bless :)


  8. Because you're a Type A personality?
    ...I only feel I can say this as a fellow Type A!

  9. Debra W, wise and generous words, my friend. thank you.

    Marylinn, i can tell you know just what knots I am tying over here. I am still trying to get it right myself. the first step is knowing that much of what i create around this is in my own head.

    Silver, you're so right. I hope you are well today, dear Silver. Sending love.

    Sandra, welcome! Thank you for clicking that follow button too. I hope you come often. Yes, I probably am a type A, guilty as charged (there's the guilt again, proving it!), although my Type A self says I should be able to have all the gift giving wrapped up and done before Christmas. I am a sorry Type A, aren't I?

  10. For some reason, I find sending presents is charming, even after the holidays, because it shows that you have spent the time preparing them. I would have been very happy to get it.

  11. one of my sisters in law's gifts is still sitting on a table in my studio waiting to be wrapped and then i have to ship it to texas!!

    i'm breaking all sorts of late records this year! with gifts and cards.

  12. Olga, you're absolutely right. People are happy to be thought of, even if the present is late!

    mouse, you and me, friend. i now have all the gifts to be sent in the house, waiting to be wrapped and shipped. they'll get there yet!