07 Dec Your Presence is the Present
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
— Maya Angelou
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. It will bring you some ease around the whole matter of giving gifts.
No matter what festival or holiday we celebrate, we’re accustomed to recognizing it by giving and receiving presents. It’s the same with birthdays and anniversaries. The importance of gift-giving as a way for us to demonstrate our gratitude, love, support, or acknowledgment seems to be built into our collective DNA.
Over the years I’ve worked with people and their relationship with money, I’ve noticed some dilemmas associated with giving and receiving gifts. I will show you two of them and then give you an alternative you might want to consider this year.
Dilemma Number One: The Long-Term Effects of Receiving Gifts
I want you to get the experience of this first dilemma. Therefore, to see what I’m talking about, please answer the following questions as truthfully as possible:
- Looking back to four years ago, do you remember the presents people gave you that year? Think about your birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other celebration in which you received gifts.
- If you remember some of the presents you were given, do those memories warm your heart as you think about them? Do they give you a sustained experience that might sound like: “Ah, yes! It was just great to get these presents?” Probably not.
This is what’s happening. With rare exceptions, it’s challenging to remember gifts that we were not emotionally attached to in some way. The thrill of the moment vanishes within weeks after receiving a present that doesn’t promise an experience a friend or loved one will treat us to.
Dilemma Number Two: The Rise in Gift-Card Spending.
Over the years, discovering ways to spend money on gifts has become more effortless and convenient. As little as ten years ago, I don’t know if anyone would consider sending something like a prepaid gift card to a friend, colleague, or relative. Now, it’s simple: we can easily buy and send a gift card to the person’s favorite store or convenient website quickly and easily. This act allows us to demonstrate how much we appreciate the person while saving us the time and effort of going to a store and looking at merchandise while guessing what they might want to have.
There are two primary drawbacks to gift cards. First, we might spend more on the gift card than planned. The following is an example of what I’ve heard from numerous people over the past few years.
Alice: I recently saw I’m spending more on gift cards because of their convenience. For example, I don’t have to drive to a store, find a parking space, and spend time trying to choose what gift(s) to buy. And with the internet, all I have to do is press a button, and it’s done! But all of this convenience brings with it my tendency to spend more than I plan. For example, instead of spending $69.95 on a piece of clothing, I can round the card up to $75 or $80.
I’m not saying that we should stop giving those cards. They still reflect our appreciation of the person we give them to and are gratefully used to buy what they want. But here’s a dilemma I’ve discovered in talking to people. A few have gift cards they haven’t redeemed months later. A dear friend recently confided in me that she has three that haven’t been used in six months because she hasn’t yet decided what to buy with them!
Your Presence is the Present!
At this point, you’ve probably guessed where we’re headed. Has it ever occurred to you that there are people in your life who would love to spend time with you? Time is a very precious gift that we can give to others.
I’ve brought this subject up several times in past articles, and it bears repeating here. We use six kinds of energy to create whatever we wish to see. They are money, time, physical vitality, creativity, enjoyment, and relationships.
Years ago, when I’d ask people why they didn’t accomplish a particular goal, they’d almost always say, “I didn’t have the money.” While that’s still true to a certain extent, the answer that’s more top of mind for people today is, “I didn’t have the time.”
Time is a precious commodity. It’s closely related to the energy of relationship, especially when we’re looking at giving gifts and especially when we’re also looking at what gifts we’re going to give to the people we love and appreciate.
When we take Maya Angelou’s quote to heart, it gives us a roadmap as we think about creating gifts that our dear friends and loved ones will remember with a smile in their hearts.
Here are some basic guidelines:
- Think about the person for whom you are planning a gift. What do you appreciate about them? How have they contributed to you and others around them?
- Does this person have experiences they love and could easily share with you? For example, do they like to fish, take long walks, or see nights filled with stars?
- Looking at what they seem to enjoy, would they love for you to enroll the two of you in a three-hour dessert-making course? Would they like to take a two-hour nature photography class along with you?
- If they like little adventures, might they appreciate a surprise picnic with you at a state or local park you know they love? How about a surprise boat trip to a place they’ve always wanted to visit? For those of us who live in California, that could include a trip to the Channel Islands off of Oxnard.
- What if they’re your sweetheart, and what they’d truly love is a 20-minute foot rub? Or, if they have established chores around the house, you could pair the foot rub with one whole week of doing those chores yourself!
- Finally, would they love dinner at their favorite restaurant, possibly followed by a movie you know they’re looking forward to seeing?
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. I’ve included gifts that encompass different amounts of both time and money. The point is, this is a way to demonstrate to them how much they mean to you.
And, not only are you planning to have them do something they love, but you are also giving them the most precious present. You are giving them something they will remember. You’re giving them time with you!
Here’s to your best Holiday Season ever, no matter how you celebrate it!