Guest Author - Lori Phillips
We are a celebratory society. We're a happy bunch with all this celebrating. When my son was in a high school relationship, his girlfriend insisted they exchange gifts for their first month anniversary. I suppose the longevity, or should I say brevity, of the typical high school romance calls for celebrating short durations but I thought it was humorous.
What isn't so funny, however, is how the notion of celebrating good news now demands more than heartfelt congratulations and good wishes. You don't feel comfortable unless you offer a greeting card (which costs from $1-10) and a material gift that's wrapped in packaging that can cost as much as the gift itself.
The saying, "it's the thought that counts" is not an excuse for being cheap and thoughtless. It means that if the giver selected a gift with some effort but the gift missed its mark for the receiver, then the giver's thoughtfulness should be taken into account and be appreciated. The giver's intention is part of the gift.
It's the same if a giver gives an expensive present but, in her heart, did not want to give it or gave it with the intent of making herself look good for being generous, then the gift falls flat in the receiver's heart. There is no gift in this thought.
But what if you honestly want to give a gift but can't afford it? What if the endless occasions financially strap you? What if the only things you can give are your thoughts and good wishes? Here are simple ways to wrap them:
*Take the time to write a thoughtful letter about how much the person means to you, how they affect your life and a detailed memory of a time together. If the person is a co-worker or boss, tell them how thankful you are that he or she makes your work life so pleasant or how you look up to the person as a mentor. Everyone likes to feel significant. Your honest words will be a true gift that will uplift her spirit and reverberate throughout her life. Much more valued that say another pen, mug or gift card.
*Whisper your good wishes into a little box and wrap it. Attach a note that explains this gift contains your good wishes and love. Anytime the receiver feels a need for an uplift, she can open it and feel your love. You can write a note and stick it in the box before you wrap it. The note can say anything you like but I put in something like this: "This box contains perpetual love. It refills every time it is opened."
*Wash and dry a prescription bottle and fill it with mints or candy. Print out a new label for the bottle that says: When feeling low, take two pills and call me at (insert your phone number). The perfect prescription for stress or loneliness. This shows that unlike other givers who drop a gift and go, you're offering true friendship beyond this day. When the person calls, make good on your gift.
*Wrap your good wishes in a hug. Look the person in the eye and explain that you're giving them the contents of your heart with this hug. Accompany the long, warm hug with, "I wish you..." Then, end with a smile. If you really put all of your loving thoughts and energy into this act, the other person will feel it.
*Offer a hearty handshake using the same process above. When you offer sincere good feelings, you're sending out positive energy that is not just a bunch of hoodoo. Have you ever felt a really great handshake that came with good feelings? Someone once gave me this gift and it made an impact on me. I felt good for a long time afterward and recognized the intangible gift of good will. A thought-free box of chocolates or stationery could not compare.
*An email card used to be considered crass but in today's tech-reliant world, it is an acceptable form of communication. My niece text messaged me a thank you and instead of feeling slighted, I smiled to know that she took the time to express her appreciation. Many other kids don't show it at all. Emails are brief, but it still takes time and thought to compose one. Send an email to congratulate someone. It still brings a smile which is the purpose of any gift.
*Make them laugh. Tell a birthday joke. Let them know that your gift is the gift of laughter. Often for Easter, I fill some of the plastic eggs with jokes and pass those around. People love those better than the ones filled with jelly beans.
*Sage advice. Graduation gifts are meant to aid the grad on his journey. Offer wisdom from your life. Most advice books given to kids this age aren't read, but one good piece of heartfelt advice from you will be. Choose wisely and write it meaningfully. Give examples from your life. Be honest and remember that people learn from your failures as much as from your success.
*Sing a song or do a dance. This will elicit tears or laughter (or tears from the laughter) and that is the point of the gift. Make it spontaneous or spend time composing something special. Either way, it truly is the thought that counts so don't worry about your skill level.
*Say a prayer and ask for a blessing upon the receiver. Make it lovely. Even though you might feel it an important thing to pray for the personís redemption or forgiveness for sins, do not offer this type of prayer for this occasion. Ask for blessings of good health and happiness. Abundance and love.
*Offer flowers from your garden. Bake special cookies with ingredients that remind you of the person so it is a custom, one-of-a-kind cookie. And readers remind me of the gift coupon for service in the future (there are pros and cons!)
Most of all, override your worries about looking cheap or selfish. Most everyone can understand having a limited budget. And good people can respect a true gift from the heart, no matter what it is.