Finding balance in the second half of life

Ask and You Shall Receive?

In Family on November 29, 2010 at 5:23 pm

The Unclutterer’s recent post on giving gifts that are wanted or needed was timely–of course. We’ve been brainstorming about Christmas gifts for a while now, to come up with ideas we can make and afford. The Unclutterer recommends asking recipients what they want or need, though, and that’s a tender spot in our negotiation of the season.

My husband grew up on Christmas lists. The first few holidays we celebrated together, I misjudged the list dynamic: I assumed we were supplying ideas, thought-starters; when the holiday came, it looked like we had been placing an order.

If we made a list as kids, it was in the form of a letter to Santa, from which we might receive one or two items. We might give hints–leaving catalogs open to certain pages, even tearing out pictures. But we understood that there was a certain mystery and suspense to gift-receiving, and gift-giving required some imagination.

That’s still my orientation, although it’s sorely tested these days by nieces and nephews living far away and reaching those awkward teenage years. It seems to me it makes the gifts more special, less like an entitlement or a mail order delivery. It’s an intersection between the giver and the recipient. And the gifts that hit the mark–like the handknit black fingerless gloves for my niece–are a special unanticipated joy for both of us.

–Lois Maassen

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