GIFT

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This, like every, Christmas season, we inevitably find ourselves focusing on one thing: a gift. 

 

Sometimes we focus on the physical gifts - what we’ll get; what to give; what we may have already got that could possibly be gifted on to someone else, “because they’ll love it”.

 

Sometimes we find ourselves thinking more about the metaphysical gifts. The gift of time spent with loved ones, time off work, the festiveness of the collective Christmas spirit… but that’s definitely a very different kettle of fish… so what does “gift” actually mean.?

 

Gift: a thing given willingly to someone for positive impact without something in return

 

A gift is essentially something bestowed upon you by another with the purpose of having a positive effect.  In theory, there is no requirement on your part.

 

For some, we give gifts to show how much someone means to us – our appreciation of them. 

Others, it’s to provide joy and pleasure in someone’s life, just because we care about them and their well being.

And then there is of course the transactional gift… This is a huge hallmark (excuse our pun) of the Christmas season. We easily and often find ourselves in the predicament of having to figure out who we “need” to be getting gifts for. We pile up our lists with the people we love, the people we will happen to be seeing and think might be offended if we overlook them and we want to be “thoughtful”, and then the people we would happily not exchange gifts with but know will probably give us a gift and so we feel obliged to get them one so we don’t look “rude”, or worse, “cheap”. Worse still is the gift given in competition – “my gift is cooler/more thoughtful/more expensive than yours”… i.e. Look at me!!! 

 

When a gift becomes attached to any sort of obligation, is it still a gift?

 

In the land of consumerism and marketing, and Coca Cola Santa Clauses with “naughty and nice lists”, does a gift ever come without strings attached anymore?  Don’t get me wrong – social relationships, incentives and compensation are an essential and purposeful part of our day to day lives (and probably should be topics of future NITL) – but should we be attaching the beautiful word “GIFT” to these interactions?  Or are we no longer realistically in a world where anything truly comes altruistically for free?

 

And then there is the awkward rotation of ‘regifting’.  Now this is interesting! 

Most people have a strong opinion about this process – the use of a present you have received, but never (or minimally) used, and wrapping it in pretty paper for someone else’s enjoyment.  What makes this re-Gift feel less valuable?

  • As the first recipient – if you loved the thought, and it made you very happy that the Gifter gave you something, does it matter that the actual item was not something that you had any use for? Do you get offended that they knew you so little, that you couldn’t find a way to use the gift in your day to day life? 

  • Or as the final recipient (we hope), assuming you like the gift, does it matter that the other person didn’t have to pay for or make it, or that it wasn’t initially meant for you? And if it does, why? 

(NB: Significant family heirlooms do not necessarily (but can) fit into this category).   

 

It seems somewhat contradictory that the concept of gifting becomes a burdensome one.  And this is seen most obviously in that great adage, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Those blessed with a Gift are generally encumbered with the requirement to use it (cue multiple Superhero movie storylines) – and not just for your benefit but in fact often more so for the sake of others.  It’s almost like people return to the original logic that you got this for nothing – it’s just yours to enjoy – so you need to share your luck.  

 

For example -  If you are stumbled upon as being a brilliant musician, god forbid you might prefer to stay an accountant. 

“Why aren’t you performing publicly?” 

“You should practice more and make a career out of it”

“Talent like that should be shared, it’s a shame to hide it.” 

 

What is it that Shakespeare says… “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them”. 

 

At a time of year where we are all trying to wind things up to enjoy our festive season and (hopefully) some holidays, there is a huge pressure to be happy with all the things we have in life – to appreciate our gifts.  In a time of COVID, simple things like being healthy and having a job are absolutely blessings, but you would be excused for finding it hard to revel in the joy of the “gift” of some of the core necessities of modern life.  Sometimes it’s just hard to be grateful and happy about something that doesn’t work for you – even if it is labelled with a bow, a card and the phrase “Gift”.  

 

It’s actually pretty rare nowadays that anything that comes our way is truly a…

Gift: a thing given willingly to someone for positive impact without something in return

 

Perhaps, though, we can look for the elements of what we have and what we receive, and see if we can find the “gifting” within them.  

So here is my Christmas gift – more of a stocking filler really!  Though I hope it brings some entertainment (and reframing) to your festive season. 

 

The Naygift Scales:

Each scale is from 1-5 (and you are welcome to do “half scores”). 

Score anything you have received in your life along this scale, using the phrase – 

“In relation to the gift, what was the…”

Add up the total. 

Then you get to choose what your cut off is – But here are some simple ways to think about it. 

If all 4 scales were “neutral/some” -the total score would be 12.  

If all the scores were pretty good, but not awesome – the total score would be 16. 

If all the scores were kind of negative, but not damaging – the score would be 8. 

 

 

 

My logic is that sometimes it’s useful to remind ourselves of all the different things that can make something have value, or in fact, be detrimental to our lives, irrespective of the kind of paper it is wrapped in. 

 

And the gift you give yourself is being able to see the difference and choosing which ones to accept. And which ones might get a better score under someone else’s tree in future.