It’s that time of year when everyone hounds everyone else for pretty much everything. Opinions are flying left and right on what you’re doing (or not doing) to get yourself in the spirit. Don’t decorate too soon, but don’t forget to do it all together. Put your creepy friend on a shelf but also remember to teach that good behavior is its own reward. Forgive everyone, but don’t be a doormat. Eat, drink, and be merry! But don’t lose that lady-like figure either. And the big one this year: presence versus presents.
That’s where I’m going to throw in my two cents…and only two cents because I have to save the rest of my money for all the gifts I’m buying! Oh, that’s right. I’m advocating materialism. And shopping. And greed. And excess. And so much spending! That last one is no surprise to the Man.
Just kidding. I’m kind of a liar sometimes you remember. Anyway, I’m not for any of that nonsense. I am for presents, though, and I always will be.
Let’s backtrack for a minute. Everyone I have ever met or am related to lives exactly one million miles away from me. I might be lying again, but the truth is we move a lot. Our friends and family also move a lot. This constant motion of our important relationships results in long distance everything. Facebook is my favorite because I get to keep up with all my lovelies in one spot. I don’t have girls’ night with my three best friends…because the three of them live in three different states. The Man talks to his brother regularly, but I don’t know the last time the two of them grabbed a beer, watched the game, or hid from their wives together. The girl, the boy, and the baby have so many friends their age, but they can’t remember who they are because they generally only get to see each other once a year.
I hate it.
I miss them all all the time! Not to take away from the local friendships I am fortunate to have, but I miss all of our distant buddies. I would love to be the aunt that shows up and takes the boys to the park, so their mom can take a bubble bath and drink a beer. I would gladly stop over with homemade dinner and dessert for any one of my friends when life gets tough. I would be over the moon if my kids could play weekly with the babes of friends I used to play with at their age. But that’s not in the cards for our family. So we give our presents because we cannot give our presence.
I’m not talking about walking into a store, finding the first gadget that falls in my price range, and then being off on my merry way. I think about holiday and birthday gifts all year! I listen carefully during phone calls, Skype dates, and FaceTime chats. I take note of text messages, emails, statuses, tweets, and hashtags. During our regretfully infrequent visits, I seemingly glance over my surroundings, but I’m actually remembering home décor, design tastes, and book titles. Yeah. I really do ALL of that…just to prep for the prep. It’s at this point that the Man will chime in with, “I think he mentioned an article in a magazine, but I can’t remember the title.” Have I mentioned that he’s really attractive, the kids love him, and he often tries his best? All true.
Next, once I know where the interest lies, I start learning about it. Character names, theme songs, and plot lines for the kids. Clothing brands, authors, flavors, and scents for the adults. Pinterest, Google, Wikipedia, and I get real chummy late at night. Real chummy.
THEN, I choose the gift. And no, I don’t always buy it. I might make a crafty delight. I might hand down an old relic, brought back to life. Or I might spend some dough. And it doesn’t stop there. I also try to wrap it nicely too! Big bows or flashy paper or messages and pictures drawn in Sharpie. I want to make sure there’s clearly a lot of love in that package right at first sight.
Because that’s what a gift is…it’s the tangible feeling of a person in your heart. A gift says, “Hey! The Lady was thinking of you! She took time to pay attention to you, to pick a present out for you, to wrap it for you, and to send it to you. She can’t be here, but, HOLY CRAP, she does love you.” Just insert your name for The Lady.
That is what happens, right? When you open a gift, don’t you instantly feel something…and then associate that sentiment with the person who gave you the gift?
She was listening!
How did they know?
Oh, my! You shouldn’t have!
See, the thing is, when that person is in your life on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis, the presents don’t need to speak so loudly because the play dates, lunch meetings, dinner parties, dance-offs, sleepovers, and endless get-togethers provide the meat in your relationship sandwich. Not true if you’re a faraway family member or friend. Birthdays and holidays are all the chance we get to really show our love, and there is a lot of love.
Lest I am coming off too selfless, keep in mind that I’m a big fan of when we get gifts too! I enjoy seeing what made someone think of me, the Man, the girl, the boy, and the baby. I like thinking about the time it took to sit at the computer or go to the store, search through all the different options, and land on one. This one. The perfect one! Whether it’s from Target, Etsy, Amazon, Macy’s, the shop around the corner, or the kitchen table. Someone stopped the carousel of life to let thoughts of us on for a ride.
And then wrapped up those thoughts for us to open!
So if you can give free babysitting, outings together, or nights in as gifts, then more power to you! Share your presence. Hooray for getting to smell, touch, and be with the ones you hold dear! But for me and my family, it’ll always be more about us sharing our presents.
Unless someone wants to buy us five plane tickets to come visit (Mom).