The burden of gifts: when giving gets galling

There was once a time when gift-giving held a high level of importance in our day-to-day lives. But with the holiday season quickly approaching, students at PHS are dreading this one chore, universally labeling present-giving as a waste of time. Many complain that holidays are simply sneaky business schemes that manipulate the masses to spend money during the cold, vulnerable seasons. Why spend a significant amount of your barely-adequate budget on items that your friends and family may never use? Why waste time on sappy, commercialized, and expensive holidays, when you could be preparing for a test or spending time with friends?

I can remember the first time I gave a real gift. I spent my own money (which I had been awarded by the tooth-fairy), as well as several hours, weaving together plastic laces into a box-knot lanyard. I can recall the pure frustration and disappointment I experienced when accidentally twisting a lace, or weaving an uneven knot. Nonetheless, when the final product was presented to my grandmother, it amazed me that such an odd, useless object, literally pieces of plastic strung together, could make her so happy. I experienced an overwhelming sense of satisfaction from seeing her face light up as a result of my simple gift. I then experienced an epiphany: gift-giving gave me the ability to show my appreciation for my grandmother as well as return all the love and support she has shown me. In retrospect, it was not the tangible gift that had made her so proud, but the thought and effort that I had put into making the lanyard. This is important to keep in mind as you try to go from enduring to enjoying the gift-giving process; it really is the thought that counts.

At some point, there comes a time when the importance of birthdays, holidays, and even gift-giving loses significance. In attempts to fulfill all the errands on a daily basis, ‘buying presents’ naturally drifts from a top-priority chore to the bottom of the to-do list. Recently I have considered gift-giving a time-consuming burden, as it is difficult to come up with creative ideas for quick, easy, and inexpensive presents. As life gets busier and busier, there seems to be less time to invest in putting sincere thought into gifts. And even if I do take the time to reflect on a gift, the whole brainstorming process does not spark the same excitement that I used to experience at a younger age. This goes for all sentimental childhood interests: the magic eventually fades.

So how can we rekindle this long-lost enthusiasm and apply it to the upcoming holidays? We can try to be more outwardly appreciative of the people we love. The time and effort we spend will overshadow any materialistic aspects, and make the gift more meaningful. These presents do not need to be complex, expensive, profound, or even creative, as in the example of the lanyard. However, they must be thoughtful.  Keep in mind that because these four years of high school are essential to our overall existence, the people around us are particularly important; the gifts we give should be as significant as they are to us. We should take time to step back from our fixation on the future and appreciate the people who will help us there, thanking them each step of the way.

Gifts can tell you a lot about people: their thoughtfulness, creativity, and most of all, their gratitude. An object with no thought put into it is pointless and a waste of time. This holiday season, enjoy gift-giving by being more aware and outwardly appreciative of the people you love—the wrapping paper should be the least beautiful thing about it all.