It was my son’s birthday party. One of the things on my list of to dos was surprise him with a gift from his grandparents who are far away. They wanted desperately for him to be astounded by the present and it’s arrival. So off I went with the orders, “Buy him something that he loves. And his sister shouldn’t feel left out so get her something too.”
At the toy store I fretted over what to get the kids. I wondered did they really need another toy to add to their “often ignored after the first few weeks” pile of toys? Did I really need to add this task to my already endless list of chores to do before the birthday preparations?
I do not go to the toy store often. Who needs the exasperation created by kids over excited by all the options available. So, to avoid the pain of endless tantrums for the desire of everything in sight, I walk the toy aisles alone when they are at school. The store was full of people who think similarly, many more than I expected thanks to the upcoming holiday season.
And what I witnessed left me feeling amazed!
Exasperated parents were trying to decipher a list from a letter I am sure was written to Santa. I could see them squinting their eyes, painstakingly reading what was written and which aisle would they possibly find this never before heard of toy!
A mother was on call to her daughter, hand on hip, almost scolding her own grown up child, “Are you sure he wants the R2D2? It’s $200 !!”
A few minutes later, I came across a grandmother trudging along with a walker. As we got to talking about all the variety in the Pokemon section, she lamented, ” It’s a $100 dollars for a pack of cards! I’m so overwhelmed. And they won’t even care about it after New Years!! Gosh I sound like my mother. ” It was so cute that she was as embarrassed as moms my age when we sound like our moms.
Much later, as I tried to finalize which version of the two similar toys to get for my daughter, a mother passing by saw me mulling and quipped laughing, “Just get the cheaper one!” She put her hand on my shoulder and said, “I am kidding of course!”
Amusing as these exchanges were, I was astounded by how similar all these families were to me and mine. I wondered why is it that the parents and grandparents go through this literal and figurative pain? We all had the same concerns and we all knew the kids may not care about those toys a few months, weeks or maybe even days after they get them, moving onto the new “trend”.
The simple reason these people go through this misery is to see the children in their lives smile!
No matter the holiday, no matter the distance, we all want to create that precious memory that we will hold in our hearts and maybe photo/video archives for years to come. The receivers may forget the gift, but they will always remember that you got “that thing” for them that holiday, that time of that year.
They cherish within them that feeling that leads to growth within a relation! That present is not just a “thing” but a token of love that shows them that someone took the time and that they are always on the minds of the giver. For many. who are far away, presents are the only way to show that, “Yes, we have been paying attention to you and your life.”
The look of amazement on their faces when they receive and open that present is priceless! And above all the story that goes along with the process of how you finally got what they wanted and managed to surprise them with it is worth retelling, often amid laughter and love. It is never the size or cost of the gift that is important but the fact that someone put in that amount of effort to get someone that they would love.
Gift giving is an art you hone over time. A big part of caring about someone comes in the listening, patience and thought that you put into them daily. It takes a special kind of person who cares enough to make another smile. And that is often reflected in the perfect gift!
This holiday season as you go out shopping for your loved ones, tired beyond exhaustion wondering to yourself, ” There are so many other things to do! Why am I doing this? Is it worth it?” just know that yes it is!