When I was young I had an elderly neighbor named Mrs. Roe who lived diagonally across from us. I was pretty young when I knew her, I was eight when she died, but she taught me several lessons that have stuck with me. One of those lessons was on gift giving which being in the season for shopping seems a good lesson to remember.
I would draw pictures for her then race up the stairs to her apartment to give them to her. She always happily accepted them and hung them on her refrigerator. There was more of my “artwork” on her refrigerator than at home. Even though she was always happy to accept my drawings I have always felt that I’m not very good at drawing so one day I tore a page out of a coloring book to bring her. She wasn’t very happy about that at all.
She sat me down and explained to me that even though my own drawings weren’t perfect they were made by me and that is what was important to her. That a coloring book is someone else’s work and she didn’t know that person so their picture didn’t hold the same meaning to her that one of mine did. She told me that when you give someone a gift it shouldn’t be that you give them just something; the gift should have meaning between the giver and receiver.
That conversation happened probably 25 years ago and the lesson has stuck with me ever since. Most gifts I give are handmade and when I do buy a gift I look for it to be something that has meaning and the receiver will remember, not just something that they’ll like and falls within a specific price range.
Every year when the Christmas season rolls around and I see a flood of advertising for all the “must have gifts” of the season and news about crowded shopping malls and people fighting to get the best deals I wonder what the point is. Am I the only one who had a Mrs. Roe to teach me that there should be meaning behind giving a gift? I kind of wish more people did.