Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Christmas List

For many years now my wife and I have prepared lists each year indicating things we might like to have for Christmas. This was something that she introduced to me when we got married. What is on the list is not what always ends up under the tree, per se. It is, however, a starting point for our Christmas present shopping for each other and for others.

I didn't initially know if I liked the idea of having to buy presents according to a list. My thought was that I should be able to pick something out for someone, if I really knew them. After some time went by, I realized that, while this is mostly true, a Christmas list is a good place to learn about a person's likes and thoughts. People don't put items on their lists that that don't really want. I have been surprised with what I have seen from time to time. It has changed my mind on the writing of lists for sure.

Sometimes people's interests change and you don't realize it. You may have known each other for years, or even live under the same roof. They may have liked something for years and you give them more of the same. They appreciate the gift because you gave it with love, but they also don't feel like they are known for who they are now, just for who they used to be. We are all busy. Sometimes the ones we love most change a little on us in likes and interests and we don't notice. The Christmas list is a good way to express some of those changes.

I know my own lists have changed over the years. When I was younger I wanted movies or electronic gadgets. If it had an on switch, i wanted to have it. Now, years later, I have a drawer full of movies I haven't watched in ages, and a bunch of outdated gadgets. These days I am much more interested in thoughtful gifts and gifts that help me live the life that I have chosen. What do I mean? I am a family man. I cook. I am a professional. New pictures of my wife and son, or things that remind me of them are awesome gifts. Things I can cook or cook with are great ideas. Dress clothes to wear to work...are kind of boring, but are very useful and appreciated. A movie or a gadget? I will still enjoy it, but it is more who I was compared to who I am now.

The bottom line is this: we give gifts to the ones we love, because we love them and want to do good things for them. I want to know my wife and son well enough to give them things they love, but I know that I don't always pick up on the clues. Asking them to tell me what they like and who they are is a good thing. It lets them know that I love them and want to know them. And, it keeps me from giving them something that doesn't fit who they are now. I don't always buy according to what is written on the list, but I do pay special attention to what is written on it. Sometimes I can come up with things that they didn't expect and enjoy more than what they wrote down.

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