Gifts do not equal love and other observations about holidays 7

It is awfully nice to get a card on your birthday, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, Easter, etc.  Likewise, it feels good to be the woman in the office on Valentine’s Day, birthday, an anniversary that gets the big bouquet of flowers from your husband or boyfriend and have the other women “ooohhh and aaaahhhh” over them.  (Men may notice the flowers but they don’t comment much.)

Cards, flowers, gifts don’t indicate a person’s love or how you are held in someone’s esteem. 

The daily actions and interactions of your loved ones are the real indicators of their love for you.

Here are my feelings about most holidays:

  • They were made-up by businesses to sell stuff.
  • Sometimes the biggest gifts are given to assuage guilt.  (In one office I worked in, the woman who received the largest bouquets and the knock-your-socks-off diamond ring had a husband that we all knew was cheating on her!)
  • Holidays are not important to everyone!
  • Holidays are not celebrated by all families and so may not be part of a person’s tradition!
  • Sometimes the holidays fall when cash is low.
  • Sometimes the gift one expects is not the gift one receives even though one might appreciate the thought behind the gift.
  • Children especially of the young adult variety often fail to remember or observe holidays.  (They may be grown but they are still egocentric enough that they miss certain deadlines.)
  • Comparing the gifts you receive to the gifts your friends neighbors, or colleagues receives is sure folly and will hurt your feelings if you let it.
  • Many of the best gifts don’t require a lot of money and some are free.

The best gifts:

  • Time equals love – this is true of children and parents and husbands and wives.
  • Cooking a meal and serving it to your lover is a time = love gift.  (You get bonus points if the meal you prepare is actually something the recipient likes.  I mention this because my first husband used to take me out for lobster on my birthday.  He liked lobster; me, not so much.)
  • Having a date night with your mate where you go to the movies or dancing or a walk is another time = love gift.
  • A handwritten card or letter pledging your love and admiration in your own words is better than any purchased card will ever be.

We can decide to bemoan what we don’t get versus celebrate what we do have.
You have to figure out if the presentation is more important to you than the thought behind it.

Judge not

When having a pity-party about what you didn’t get, try to remember if there was ever a time when you didn’t come through for a loved one:

  • Did you ever forget to send your mother or father or other close loved-one a card? 
  • Were you ever so low on funds that you couldn’t send a gift at the appropriate time? 
  • Have you ignored requests or hints for gifts? 
  • Have you given gifts that were clearly last-minute or an after-thought?
  • Have you blanked on what to give someone who seemingly has everything or whose tastes were so expensive that you felt anything you gave would not even register?
  • Have you ever given a gift just to keep the peace?

Having been brought up female in this consumer-driven US society, I can let myself get caught up in the holiday/gift game or I can notice the gifts of love and consideration I am so blessed to get from my family and friends in dozens of ways over the years.  And that is my choice most of the time, when I’m being my best Candelaria,  even though, I love to get and give gifts, especially when they are unexpected.

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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7 thoughts on “Gifts do not equal love and other observations about holidays

  • LennyD

    This was a great blog! We oftentimes forget to treat people lovingly until some special occasion or holiday pops up. We should treat those near and dear to us as special with each encounter.

  • Jim

    I’ve been telling my kids since they were born that holidays were manufactured events and that Fathers Day and Mothers Day were the chief examples of forced cultural emotion…cheap at its worst. Well yesterday for the first time in my life, I was brought face to face with my teaching because my kids were not around and I no longer have any parents or godparents. Both kids called, but there was no kind of celebration or recognition that yesterday was an event and I have to tell you it was great! I enjoyed getting their calls but they call me anyway. Holidays are relatively meaningless compared to all the time in between and my kids get it. Yippee! I’ve been a good father!

  • Christina M

    I wholeheartedly agree with this post.

    I always appreciate gifts and tokens of love, but I appreciate them much more when they are given/shown on June 23rd, just because it’s Tuesday. I think sometimes we get so caught up in trying to follow societal trends, we forget it’s the candid moments that make us smile the most.

    Valentine’s Day in 2007, my boyfriend planned a very extravagant evening, which ended up falling through. I didn’t care that we staying the house because I just wanted to spend quality time together. When I look back on that day I always smile at how he bought me “The Little Mermaid” DVD, then watched it with me and fell asleep together. If this happened on anything other day I would love it the same. But I’m glad his plans fell through on that particular day because we were able to really have a loving and intimate time together, without all the fanfare.