Thursday, July 1

A Gift? For Me?

I had an interesting conversation yesterday which, although only lasting but a minute, has left me pondering til now.

I was chatting with a woman I don't know at a mommy group event, and she was commenting on how her daughter (she was a grandmother) was married and soon to give birth to a baby, and how she herself was irritated with her son-in-law.

Being the devotee of love stories and babies that I am, naturally I was curious and conveyed my interest.

She continued to remark on how her son-in-law (foolish man that he was) did not think that he needed to give his wife a "congratulations on bearing my first offspring" present. How dare he. What is he thinking? She is going to all this trouble, and he's not going to reward her on this momentous occasion?

Needless to say, I was surprised at her vehemence. She then went on to account for the absurd (albeit sweet and sentimental) gift that he had bestowed on his wife on their wedding day. He had given her a handkerchief.

Now I must interject my own opinion here: this was not just any old handkerchief. It was delicate and fragile, a work of art (per the grandmother's scornful description), embroidered on one side with her daughter's maiden name and date of birth, and on the opposite with her married name and date of the wedding.


But the grandmother confided both in me, and apparently with her son-in-law as well, that in their family, jewelry was always given as a gift on momentous occasions, and in her opinion, he ought have given her a diamond (even though she had plenty).


After my short discussion, or rather, listening session with this austere woman, I was left pondering. What is the nature of gift giving? What should go into such a practice? Are you giving a gift for yourself or really taking into mind the person receiving?

At my university, there was much discussion regarding the 5 Love Languages. They are as follows and I believe self-explanatory:

1) Physical Touch
2) Words of Affirmation
3) Quality Time
4) Acts of Service
5) Gift Giving/Receiving

I can't stress enough how important it is both to know your own love language and that of the person(s) in your life that you love, be it a significant other, friends, or family.

Your love language is how you best receive love, and in turn, the love language of your loved one is how they best receive it.

This post is dealing directly with the issue of giving gifts. Some people are good at giving gifts. Some people are good at receiving them.

I am both. I love to give gifts to people, and honestly enjoy getting things for others. I put thought into each gift, into the likes/dislikes of the person receiving, and I try to make each gift personal and meaningful.

One of the most precious gifts I've ever received was when Jonathan wrote me a song for my birthday while we were still dating. It was sappy and sentimental, and absolutely wonderful and heart-melting. I still remember all the words and hum it occasionally. It makes me smile without fail.

I have a friend who is 1000 times better than I at giving gifts, and she never ceases to amaze me, outdoing herself every time. She never expects anything in return either, and I hope that somehow, all of us are loving her the way she needs to be loved in return.

Otherwise, I can imagine it gets increasingly difficult, giving and giving without receiving anything at all in return.

So I wonder, what is it to give a gift? How much of it ought be telling other people what you want/like, as if life were a gigantic gift registry? How much of it is depending on others to care enough to discover your own love language?

Was it right that this grandmother tell her son-in-law exactly how he should gift his wife, because she knows her daughter? Should he have done a better job in getting to know her desires?

Or is there an element of self-revelation in the gift he chose to give?

I think that we have to be careful in this. There are 3 options I see:

1) You can tell people how you are best loved, and elucidate the things you most would like to receive. Then you must be patient and allow them to take it or leave it...

2) You can simply wait and allow the person to little by little discover how you are loved, trusting they have both the desire to know you at that deep level and the desire to give you what you most want.

3) You can allow the person gifting you to reveal their particular way of loving you through their particular gift. This I think is tricky, because you have to trust that the person won't be lazy or not interested in putting the effort to really love you through their gift.

But I have faith in people that love. I believe that love conquers all.

I believe that a gift from the heart has tremendous value, regardless of what it is.

Then again, diamonds are always a girl's best friends. As are shoes. And chocolate. ;)


1 comment:

  1. sounds like the kind of mother-in-law I wouldn't want! ;)


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