Monday, August 3, 2009

To be known & understood is the true gift

I originally wrote the following in response to a kind comment from Saver Queen in the “What’s inside?” post below. The more I wrote, the more I realized it grew in a short, but poignant post.

I love it when someone gives me a gift that is something I was unaware that I needed, something that puts a little added ease into my daily grind. Or a gift that embellishes something that is important to me, like serving tea, baking, gardening, adding to a collection…

The act of taking time to truly listen to me, observe me and truly know me is, in essence the gift, not necessarily the object. That’s the part that sets tears in my eyes. To feel, in this wide world, there is someone who has taken the time to truly know me and wants me to continue on as myself and not be swayed. (Ever get those gifts when you can tell someone is trying to change you?)

I have given gifts that have turned out unintended flops. We all make mistakes. But, I’ve found that time really helps in finding something that another will value. It is flat out foolish to think we can go holiday shopping with overbooked schedules in December and give gifts that mean something or that are even worthy of giving. How can we talk of charity and good will during this season when we are just, more or less, products of retail sales and advertising? The state of retail sales is all we see in print and TV media. We’ve even been told it’s patriotic to go shopping.

The retail machine puts a lot of static in our heads and does an amazing job of confusing our wants with our needs. So, come holidays, it can be very hard to figure what it is that you even need.

But, to have a friend, take time to truly know you to the point that they can spot little treasures that make your heart leap, now that makes giving a gift worthwhile.

Best to you in these hard times Saver Queen, I share your condition, more that you might suspect.


Saver Queen said...

Wow. This is so poignant and so true. The art of gift giving truly involves more than just shopping. It involves months of listening, of truly hearing that person, and I think that's why I was so touched by your post "what's inside" and this follow up post. You don't just ask "what would this person like" but "who is this person and what is important to them?" As you say, you choose gifts that help embellish a passion, a pleasure, and validate the essence of who they are. We all want to be understood. We all want to be accepted for who we are. Sometimes more than anything else, this is what we crave. We've all had moments in our life when we have felt misunderstood, or that people want us to change who we are. A gift that lets someone know - "i get you, and you're wonderful" is truly the best.

By the way, this post is coming at a good time. My birthday is coming up, and it just so happens that I have a twin, so I will be shopping for her soon. Before I go out and buy something, I want to ask the question - who is she, and what does she really love in life?

As a side note, for my 25th birthday, my twin emailed all my friends and family members and requested that they send in quotes, stories, or reasons why they love me and why I'm special. She printed them off, and made a collage using pictures. I think that is hands down the best present a person could ever hope to receive.

One more reason why I love your blog is that I share your passion of finding a life of abundance by using the resources available to you. I truly believe that a fulfilling and abundant life can be found in simple, unexpected, frugal ways. We have many untapped resources around us, and you remind us to seek them out.

Anonymous said...

So many ways to reply to this post. A gift(whether valuable or not) is even more appreciated when the giver takes the time to give from the heart, taking into consideration the recipient's taste, needs etc.
A friend just gave me some seashells to add to the collection. I LOVE seashells and her thoughtfulness made this gift a real tresure. Unexpecte gifts from someone who "just saw this and thought you might like it" are the best.

Bee Balm Gal said...

Years ago when my children were small and so was our budget, I stumbled on this book: Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Warmth Back Into the Season,
by Jo Robinson. The lessons apply to far beyond just the one holiday. I am proud to say that not one of my three grown children is materialistic, a fact that I credit in part to the influence of this book. I highly recommend it AND it's easy to find on used book websites such as Powell's or Abe Books.

Shopping Golightly said...

Perhaps all us frugal-minded, energy-saving bloggers should plug: Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Warmth Back Into the Season,
by Jo Robinson!

I am happy to write that my girls ask Santa for three items because any more might appear a bit greedy. Last year, Little Pie asked for a small hour glass, magnetic rocks and a big bag of jelly beans. Santa delivered without driving anywhere near a Toys-R-Us and Piper had a wonderful holiday.

Beth said...

Absolutely! Years ago, a co-worker who'd become a friend made some noise about buying a Christmas gift for me. He never did, and I didn't care about not getting the object, but I was looking forward to seeing what he'd select for me. I suppose the fact that he didn't buy anything says plenty in and of itself.

Every year, I buy the gifts that my father gives to my mother for Christmas. Last year, I bought a gorgeous hand-knit Irish sweater for her. Dad came over to wrap things – I insist that he do that much for her – and he said, "Did she say she needed another sweater?"

"No," I said. "But she's always cold and she loves hand-crafted things."

He just shrugged and wrapped it.

After nearly 50 years of marriage, he says, of giving gifts to her, "I don't know what she wants."

I try to point out that that's the point of giving a gift: knowing someone well enough to know what they'd like without them having to hand a list to you.

Elizabeth B said...

Golightly and Saver Queen, thanks to your plugs, I have just ordered Unplug the Christmas Machine from PaperBack Swap. (I had credits sitting unused.)

Lovely post. Thank you.

Shopping Golightly said...


Goodness! I am thankful, for your mother's sake, you are there to help your father! I just might dope slap (term from NPR's The Car Guys) Mr. Golightly with my grandmother's 40lb purse if he didn't know me enough to give me a gift. Sounds like he needs to start fresh and court your mother again!

Inventory Clear Out said...

That is a good idea, just continue the way you love that passion in life. I admire you for being like that because I know for countless time in this world, less people do the same as yours.