What’s the best gift you can give someone? Something that captures the essence of your relationship in a single object, experience, or meal? Shouldn’t it be a hand-made object that conveys a certain degree of effort and time, which fully expresses the value they’ve brought to your life? Anything else would be rude, right? Considering how often the gifts we give or even receive become common or discarded, shouldn’t we find gifts with more meaning?
The perfect gift is different for every person.
What’s more difficult to phrase is that there is a perfect gift for every time period in a person’s life. As a person explores life, perhaps they’d like more of an experience that they’ll return to in their memories or through mementos of an event. Maybe they just want the memento itself, or even more simply, the cash to use on something of their own choosing.
Why do we overcomplicate this so much?
Is it because we want to express a certain totalitarian understanding of another person? The idea of peering so deeply into someone’s psyche to predict the exact gift that will inspire them to act in a certain positive manner is better stated as romantic. Why? If we knew the person well enough, we’d know what kind of interests they have and what kind of things they would like to have or experience.
If we don’t know, there’s still time for exploration.
Explore that person’s psyche by way of what kind of things they like to do or own. If your friend collects records of a particular genre and has their collection online, browse through their wishlist and find something they might like – even if they later sell it, at least there was some effort done, right?
Gifts with more meaning are ones that fill in gaps.
Maybe it’s something they don’t know they’re missing? But how do we figure out what people are missing in themselves that they don’t already know? I read subconscious nonverbal cues and read between the lines, when appropriate, to figure things out. For example, if you ask about some topic and they’re beyond ecstatic to chat, keep asking, gather information, then find an appropriate gift.
What if they’re more reserved?
Try letting them guide the conversation. If they bring up a certain topic a few times in excitement, there’s that. Since negativity is just the expression of needing to alleviate stress, figure out where those pressure points are, then either fix those stress points or find a certain way to get them fixed. The job or the crappy coworker could just be expressions of ennui at work manifest in physical or emotional forms.
But here’s the thing:
Try not to think about it too much. Your understanding of the person you’re gifting will change at a different pace than that person’s understanding of themselves. You might think they value books most when, really, they value quiet time the most.
Don’t overanalyze it. You’ll be fine acting with positive intent.
|Sources: My personal experience.|
|Inspirations: Mainly a holiday season essay about materialism. I think we unintentionally gift cluttering items because what we perceive of someone is a sort of false expectation of what we think of someone else and they don’t want us to feel bad we predicted them wrong. I got on this kick because I’ve received some particularly good gifts and some that I just donated hours before writing this essay. No, just kidding.|
|Related: Other Moving Zeal essays.|
|Picture: EarthBound’s gift box.|
|Written On: November 28th [30 minutes exactly]|
|Last Edited: First draft; final draft|