I LOVE GIVING PRESENTS! I live to find perfect gifts for people and find great joy when their eyes light up with just how perfectly customized it is for them. It’s never about how much money I spend it’s the hunt, and the excitement of giving someone something that I know they’ll use or LOVE. I discovered one of my friends who volunteers at my church every Sunday morning always stops at Panera for a hazelnut coffee so I got him a $10 gift card so the next few weeks are one me. Another time I heard a friend mention she really liked brown betty tea pots when we just happened to be talking about tea. I remembered and several months later I got her that tea pot for their birthday, it made her day and she could hardly believe I had remembered. It’s just fun! It brings joy to my heart. Admittedly, there is a delicate battle of ego not to let being pretty good at giving gifts go to my head so I do as much as I can to keep myself in check. There is a very fine line between giving a gift because you know it’s going to bless someone like crazy and giving a gift so you can look super awesome. In Real Mom Talk: Receiving Graciously, Heather opened her heart up about an experience she had when someone gave her family a meal. The timing was spot on for her family, thankfully it doesn’t sound like the givers put on a show of just how wonderful they were and good for them.
Recently, I was in a small local store standing in line waiting to make my purchase. A family walked in, a mom, dad, and two small children. I happened to make eye contact with the little boy and suddenly everything in my heart wanted to give family something. I was so anxious and excited the lady in front of me seemed to be taking forever. Finally it was my turn; I asked the cashier if they had gift certificates, no. They didn’t have a debit/ cash back option either and I had no cash in my wallet. I quickly took my stuff to the car and thankfully there was a Walgreens right next door. It was so exciting. I walked over there as fast as I could, grabbed a simple Christmas card and some fun candy for the kids… of course the line was LONG again. I got the cash, placed it inside the card, wrote “Merry Christmas” and did not sign my name. My heart was racing, I was praying they hadn’t left the store yet, I went back in and started anxiously looking for them, finally I spotted them and then I quickly asked for everyone’s attention in the store and made my very generous gift presentation. JUST KIDDING! Making sure you’re paying attention. I actually hung back a minute, waited for a moment when the kids were distracted, tapped dad on the shoulder, handed him the card and candy and quietly said, “I just felt like I’m supposed to give this to you. Merry Christmas” and quickly turned around, didn’t look back, and walked out. I love the fact that those children probably have no idea what happened… that maybe just maybe that money was something those parents needed to buy Christmas presents, or maybe simply food for that family. The bottom line is, it wasn’t about me, I would rather those parents feel loved and blessed and be able to love and bless their children – to me, that is the best part of giving that gift.
I struggled sharing the story above – it’s actually the first time I’ve publically told anyone, but I wanted to share the joy of sneaking that little gift. Of course all gift giving doesn’t have to be covert or anonymous, it’s entirely appropriate to be open when giving gifts. People always say, “It’s the thought that counts” and I know during a season that is pretty much defined by giving gifts it’s easy to get wrapped up in comparisons of the elaborate present someone else gave you and they weren’t even on your list or revel in the glory of the exact perfect present you’ve picked out for some one. I also understand there are situations where gifts are obligatory, in these situations we should choose to give with joy and be excited about the opportunity to make someone’s world a little brighter. Just as we should all be gracious in receiving gifts, no matter what they may be, we should also give with grace, be thoughtful of how you give to others, and make them feel like it’s all about them and not about you.
Have you ever given a sneaky gift or been on the receiving end from a stealth Santa? Were the gifts given with grace?
We recently sent money to a friend to buy a new stove. The family had been struggling all year and was trying to add to their family. I saw a message on facebook that their stove nearly caught fire and so I asked my husband what we could do to help them. He generously offered to send them a check, so we priced out stoves online, and called for their address (sadly, I didn’t have it) and sent a check.
We are blessed in that my husband has a good job, and we help whenever we can, when we feel impressed to do so. I hope it helps this family in their next steps, there is nothing like a home cooked meal!
I had a really good friend and sorority sister in college that I gave a sneaky gift to. she told me that she was unsure if she could afford her books let alone the dues of our chapter at the start of her senior year. I talked to my parents about it and told them how special she was to me and how much I appreciated her in my life. We went to the book store and bought a gift certificate and got the manger in on it to so she would know what to do when the friend came in (small school :].) I put it in a card that talked about friendship and what she meant to me. I gave the card to the bookstore manger and told another sister to let my friend know that the manger wanted to see her. She was afraid it was about her loan or that she owed money…so when she found out what it was she was very overwhelmed. She told me about it and didn’t suspect anything…a year or so later she hinted that she kinda knew something by thanking me in a letter for all that I had done for her, even things I didn’t know she was thanking me for. I loved being able to buy her books for the semester and her not knowing. It felt so good to do something for such a great person and to do it out of kindness not for acknowledgment. I think everyone should try it! It would be a true paying it forward movement :)thanks for sharing!
Megan – that’s so awesome! That was so great of your dad!
My favorite Christmas memory ever was when I was 8 or 9, after I stopped believe in Santa. My parents helped run the local food pantry, and one family struck their eye. They lived a mere block from us, had a preschooler, a toddler, and a new baby but no money. My parents talked to my brother and I and we decided we wanted them to have a really nice Christmas. We spent a week or more picking out just the right gifts for all of them (parents included). Christmas Eve, my dad brought home a Santa suit and suited up. I remember walking through the snow with my dad in full Santa garb with a giant bag on his shoulder and my arms full(I believe i was also dressed up as a helper. We knocked on the door and the family opened the door with squeals of “IT’S SANTA!” I remember seeing no tree, no presents, parents obviously tired and worried, but kids that were ecstatic. My dad talked to the kids for a few minutes, and we turned around and walked home.
I. Love. This.
Once when money was really tight we got an anonymous $20 in an unmarked envelope. It certainly didn’t cover all our bills, but it gave us hope. Another time, when my husband was laid off and I was working a “paid” internship making $12,000 a year (before taxes), a friend gave us a blank envelope at dinner and told us to open it when we got home. Inside was a check for one month’s rent, though I don’t think we ever told them how much our rent was.
We did the angel tree last year, and a 4 year old girl had a better Christmas. She got a bunch of clothes and some new shoes (more than I ever spent on my own kids shoes!) as well as some toys, coloring books, stickers, bubble bath, etc. It was a great thing to think that THAT child would have a GREAT Christmas because of our help. Now it’s not exactly stealthy since the parents sign up for the program, but the kids are surprised, and we loved it. We missed out on giving to an angel this year, but we donated time and expertise this year to create a computer application to help the angel tree program stop HAND WRITING everything! I’m sure it saved them a lot of time and hassle for them.