Why we keep getting shitty presents

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On Christmas Eve I sent out a newsletter and within half an hour I received a lovely message from a reader. She wanted to say that she hoped my Christmas went better than I feared and then proceeded to have a bloody good moan about the expectations and pressures on the ‘big day’ which made me smile (because, seriously, I LOVE having a good rant or moan about things!). One of the things she said that struck me the most was when she said “I am fed up of thoughtless gifts just because we’re supposed to give something” and I couldn’t agree more!! One of the biggest aspects of Christmas and New Year is the commercialism attached to it. Giving gifts for the sake of giving.

This is something that, over recent years as I’ve come to learn and accept more about myself, that I understand less and less about society in general. Giving gifts being seen as a chore instead of something to bring a smile to a loved ones face. But after receiving my readers’ message, I knew exactly why we continually get shit presents at this time of the year:

We don’t listen.

Buying presents for someone is actually one of the easiest things in the world when we actively listen in conversations. In the age of social media people are too busy trying to go viral with the ‘best gift ever’ instead of getting a gift that will bring the biggest smile.

We give away clues to ourselves all day every day; the reason we keep getting shitty gifts is because people stop listening and noticing the small things. For example: my boss got myself and a colleague gifts. He bought my colleague a nice bottle of wine but he got me a bookstore giftcard because I can’t drink and he knows I love to read. And whilst that may not sound like much, it proves that he listens to me.

Thoughtful gifts are a way of making us feel connected. Important. Heard. They make us feel special.

It’s the small things! The off the cuff comments that tell you the biggest things about a person and it’s those very comments that, when you give a gift from them, receive “you remembered?” shocks. Some of the most inexpensive gifts I’ve given over the years have created the richest feelings of gratefulness. Present ideas are everywhere. Does your loved one have a hobby they enjoy or a TV show they can’t stop watching? Do they have a certain lifestyle, such as travel, that could open some present ideas to you? If you follow me on Facebook you’ll know that recently, a very good friend of mine surprised me with an incredibly thoughtful gift – a ring engraved with the coordinates of her home in Sydney; the place where she took me in and cared for me when I had given up on life. There was no ‘reason’ for the gift; she just wanted to remind me that I was loved.

We keep getting shitty gifts because we don’t listen to each other and keep announcing we’re too busy to ‘think’; bullshit! I buy presents for my friends throughout the year when I come across something I know they’ll like. They’re not expensive but they’re heartfelt and money can’t buy that kind of gift-giving. I lead a busy life, we all do, but it’s about prioritising.

If you love the people around you, gifts shouldn’t need to be this forced. The reason they are is because we are trying to think of everyone in the space of one month which causes us to panic so we buy gifts we think we’d like instead of gifts we know they’d like. As adults, gifts don’t need to be ‘special’ but we are so caught up on the need to ‘wow’ each other and surprise someone that we forget that if someone asks for a giftcard, it’s what they’d like whether we think it’s a good enough present or not.

So the next time you’re stuck on what to get your friend or loved one, think about the conversations you’ve had. What made them smile? What couldn’t they stop talking about?

The clues are there all year round; we just have to pay attention!

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