I absolutely love Christmas and the entire holiday season in general. I love celebrating my family, my husband, and my friends. I am very much a gift-giving person, it is simply my personality. The question is, how do we give to the ungrateful? That is something that is on my mind right now.
My husband and I have this tendency to buy gifts throughout the year, and then stash them away in a closet until Christmas time rolls around. It is one of those things where we find a perfect gift for someone and automatically pick it up. You know when you see an item and it just screams someone’s name? Well, if we waited until Christmas, it would not be there. Which is why we buy them when we see them. The problem with this is that we forget what is there and then buy more around Christmas, until we have a good ten presents per person, and we’ve blown a substantial amount of money overall. Just throughout the year instead of just in December. Does anyone else do this? Because the last couple of years, we’ve been really bad with this.
Many times I will add to these items by making things too, sewing or crocheting blankets, pillows, and so much more. This is not cohesive to the whole ‘less is more’ idea. But I also absolutely love making things for my friends and family. When I make something for someone, whoever it may be, I feel like I am giving a piece of myself away each time I do it. My projects are very personal to me because they bring me such joy to create.
Every year, we pack up the car and cart our million gifts to our family in neighboring towns to see them during the holidays. We always travel to see family. This isn’t normally an issue for me, but when it ends up being that the people we are traveling to see turn out to be ungrateful, I start to have an issue with it.
I’ve celebrated many holidays with both family and friends. The problem for me is that when I have such a giving spirit, and it isn’t welcomed or appreciated, it really affects me. It turns an amazing holiday into a ‘bah humbug’ kind of trip. The other problem is that it really sours me on ever giving them a gift again. I never want to put that kind of time and effort into that specific person because it clearly wasn’t appreciated. Why waste my time doing it again? I despise the fact that their behavior turns my mindset to such a negative place after that.
Now, I know good and well that I am not going to get back the large amounts of money I spent on gifts in returned gifts to me. That isn’t a problem for me. It isn’t a competition to see if I can spend more money on someone or give more gifts. I look at it from the “it’s better to give than to receive” perspective. I simply love giving. But what happens when the person I am giving to doesn’t appreciate my efforts? That can be a challenge, especially for me.
I can honestly say that I have never had someone get mad at the fact I am giving them gifts, yet it happened very recently. My husband and I hand picked each and every gift we gave, thinking of different items that we felt would be an addition to their lives, or something they had specifically asked for. One person opening them got to the last one, which was a blanket and pillow set I had made them. Their comment was, “this is too many gifts and the next one is being donated to charity.” This was said without even opening it or knowing what was inside. I can honestly say that hearing this was like having my heart ripped out and stomped on. A life-threatening physical injury would have hurt less. It was that bad. My husband remarked, I think they were joking when they said that. Some joke when it causes my heart to be ripped in half and violent tears on the way home. Yeah, really funny. Not exactly a joke when I’m not laughing.
So the real question is, how do we deal with these nasty kind of people who seem to ruin our holidays? I am sure that everyone has encountered a scrooge or two in our lifetimes. I was chatting with my favorite person on this planet about this recently, because he grounds me in many ways and puts things in a different perspective. His first response was, screw them and forget about it. Which made me laugh because after my crying spell, that was basically my thought too. Screw them. But I don’t want to be that person either. It’s a natural and reasonable response to something like that. I just don’t like feeling that negative toward people I should care about. I always give gifts in good spirit, but I kind of expect that they are received in that same spirit.
This really made me think about my own behavior, and the need to really set examples when I am accepting gifts. Have I ever destroyed someone’s holiday by receiving their gifts with an ugly heart and a nasty attitude? I am sure that at some point in my life, even without meaning to I have. I have now made a commitment to really be present in the moment of accepting a gift from someone and thinking about their feelings as I am opening it. I would like to think I haven’t destroyed someone else emotionally by being disrespectful about their gifts in many years. Now that I have been on the receiving end of that, I have made a commitment to never do that to anyone for the rest of my life. Because I never want to hurt someone that badly, the way I was hurt.
I can’t change someone else’s bad behavior, and I really shouldn’t ever feel the need to. However, what I can do is make absolutely certain that I never make someone else feel as badly as I was made to feel during a Christmas holiday. That is the one thing I can do to counteract another bad behavior. Two wrongs do not make a right. I have to focus on my behavior and really pay attention to how I make others feel and make sure I never do something like that. I like to call this a life-lesson. You know the whole “treat others how you want to be treated” concept? I’d like to pound that into a few heads with a two by four, but that is slightly frowned upon. All I can do instead is make sure I remember that phrase myself and always put it into practice.
I am still a bit angry and agreeing with my bestie on the “screw them and forget about it” idea, but I can’t allow that to consume me. I will still give gifts in a good spirit, although the number may change, and I will never put the effort into making something for these people again because I can save that for people who actually appreciate my efforts. I never want to give in a bad spirit either. That isn’t me. In time, this ugly feeling of screw them will pass, and I will be able to continue to give gifts in good spirits next year. As I said, two wrongs do not make a right, so I can’t allow that feeling to stay with me.
I want to make people feel good during the holidays, and that is why I give with such a generous spirit. I don’t want to ruin someone else’s holiday, and I encourage everyone to think about their own behavior and make sure you aren’t doing this either, because it is exceptionally hurtful. Make a commitment to yourself to be better than that, just like I did. As I said, I can’t change another person’s behavior, but I can certainly be more aware of mine, and I would love the opportunity to tell the people who hurt me to do the same. Maybe I’ll get that opportunity, maybe I won’t. I have no idea. But I would love to see all of us thinking about our behavior toward others, especially our family and friends and during the holidays.