The holiday season is a time of gift giving. Last minute shoppers flood the streets the week before Christmas and New Years, scouring stores for that perfect present. Behind gifts are kind intentions and love, and finding the perfect present to reflect our feelings is difficult. So naturally, the internet is flooded with youtube videos and articles on "Gift Ideas for Him/Her", "Perfect Presents for Dads", "What Guys Want for Christmas", etc. However, receiving a present can be just as difficult as giving one. And advice in this department is incredibly lacking.
I consider myself an amazing gift giver. I am good at dissecting past conversations, observing habits, and discovering passions, all of which help in finding a present that he/she will appreciate. The art of giving gifts lies in understanding another person. Though I have always considered material items shallow display of love, I thoroughly enjoy giving. Receiving gifts on the other hand, has always been more difficult....because not everyone has a knack for finding the right present.
Take for instance, my father's gift to me: a winter hat. Not just any winter hat, a plaid, gray trooper hat that I swear was intended for the male gender. Upon seeing it, I was not enthralled by the beauty...or lack thereof. I like fashion, winter accessories, all that jazz, and this hat was not something that I pictured in my wardrobe. My first thought after seeing it was I'll take it with me to college and just never wear it. On the outside, I accepted it gracefully, saying it looked very cool. All the while, my father went on about how useful it would be in cold, northern weather and that there were "normal", "boring" winter hats (aka ones that I would actually wear) but this one caught his eye because he'd never seen anything like it (I wonder why...). My mother, who took a more traditional route (bath & body works lotion, portable charger), openly stated that I could return the hat for another item. That's the point of gift receipts, she said, it's what everyone does with presents. I refused. To me, returning the gift undermined my appreciation of it, devalued my father's taste. And though he'd never admit, I knew it would hurt his feelings.
But now, the more I look at this dull deranged thing, feel its soft interior, the more I love it. No I had not intended for a hat like this in my wardrobe, and I have no fricking clue how to dress it. But spontaneity is part of the fun of accessories and fashion, and I always advocate wearing clothing outside one's comfort zone. Even if the hat looks goofy regardless of my attempts, I will still wear it. I will wear it because it is a token of my dad's love, which surpasses vanity, societal norms, and outside judgements. Because I love my dad, I naturally come to appreciate his presents because behind them is his unconditional love for me.
To accept gifts with grace, you must first appreciate the intentions of the giver. Receiving presents with genuine gratifaction is as important as giving amazing gifts. Only when you truly love that less-than-ideal gift do you surpass the superficial realm of gift giving, and come to appreciate the person behind the present.
In this season of gift-giving, remember to look past the present itself, so that the next time a family member presents you with unfashionable clothing item, you can look them in the eyes and truly mean it when you say, "I love it! Thank you. "