I wish I could skip this time of year entirely. It often fills me with anxiety and, up until recently, I wasn’t quite sure why. The stress would just build and build, which left me with what appeared to be a pretty bad attitude. Unfortunately, that was mostly because I hadn’t figured out how to communicate better. I have recently identified the underlying cause of that sneaky, underlying anxiety: gifts.
I think people feel obligated to come up with gifts for each other at this time of year in order to communicate the idea that “I love you and am thinking of you." A sense of obligation is never a great place to start in terms of gift-giving, and it can add stress to an otherwise thoughtful gesture. Plus, how sure are you that the sentiment is being properly communicated by your gift? Of course, there is also the fear, which can come in many forms. For example, many people worry that someone will give them a present when they themselves have nothing to offer that person in return. This fear can lead to frantic brainstorming sessions that involve trying to think of something to get for everyone. And of course, it leads to yet another fear: what if the recipients don’t like what is offered?
The idea that a gift I give will sit around, unwanted, on a shelf for a few years is not a pleasant one. You see, I grew up in a fairly cluttered house. That means that being surrounded by things that have little value to me often stresses me out. The last thing I want to do is spread that stress around to other people.
I really enjoy giving things to people at any time of the year, as long as what spurs the purchase of the gift is that I think of something I know they will really want or could use. It’s when the fears, obligations, and anxieties get in the way that I want to skip this season entirely.
Side note on gifts for children: Children expect to get gifts at this time of the year and are generally overjoyed by the simple act of opening up a present. Thus, their behavior and expectations don’t stress me out, and I find giving them gifts during the holidays to be nothing other than a joy. While I may skip gifts for other people during the holidays in favor of a later, more thoughtful present, I make sure to always wrap something up for the kids in my life.