The Lost Art of Gift Giving

I went to a wedding on the weekend. It was a beautiful wedding. Very simple and elegant.

As I arrived, I lugged a huge box from the boot of my car into the foyer of the venue. It was a gift that I had spent hours the previous day trudging up and down the stores at my local shopping centre trying to find. I agonised over many objects until I finally settled on something I thought right for the couple.

I chose a vintage drink dispenser; a large glass jar with a little silver tap that you can place beverages in when entertaining. I thought it would suit as they are a couple with young children. He also dabbles in brewing. In my mind, it was the type of item that you would not normally buy yourself but is nice to have. The type of item that I think is the perfect gift. It is useful to their needs but not so practical that they would have already purchased it themselves (or having two  would not be a problem).

When I got home I agonised over wrapping my gift. Not wanting it to break, I carefully placed it in a cardboard box and taped it up first. I then searched high and low for wrapping paper. Not finding any, I settled on brown paper and neatly wrapped the box. To decorate, I tied white ribbon, lace and a string of beads.

As I entered the foyer I approached the gift table. The invitation had not specified any gifts. There was no registry to follow or requests for cash. Yet when I got to the table (and I was running late so the rest of the gifts were already there) it was starkly obvious that I was the only person that had gone for a traditional gift. There were two or three small boxes on the table and my large box stuck in the middle of the table. To the side of the table was a large glass jar marked “cards”. This was full. Everyone, except for me had given cash.

Now I am not opposed to giving cash necessarily… ok… I am a little. When I say I am not opposed, I mean that I understand that life is expensive. These days most couples live with each other before they get married and have already got a toaster, blender and the rest of the household appliances that they need. What they need is cash.

But it still doesn’t sit well with me. When did gifts suddenly need to be practical? Who decided that you can’t just give frivolous objects that people might simply like?

I have this argument with my mother every Christmas. She has decided to cut back on the amount she spends on my children. Her argument is that they get so much stuff at Christmas time that they really don’t need more. Instead, she has opted to buy a small gift and put the money she saves into a bank account for them for when they are older.

I think the bank account is a nice idea and appreciate what she is trying to do.

What gets up my nose is the fact that Christmas has a value on it. Although I appreciate her actions, I find it unnecessary. Who decided that a certain amount needs to be spent on each person? Why is it that gift giving has become about a dollar value and not about the joy of trying to find something that the receiver might like? Why can’t children get heaps of useless crap at Christmas time? It’s something I just don’t understand.

I feel that we have lost the meaning of gift giving. For me, giving a gift was about the simple act of trying to understand someone else’s likes and choosing or making something that would bring them joy and happiness. I relish in the delight on a child’s face when they open a box a find a toy they haven’t seen before.

When someone opens a card and pulls out a $50 note, says thanks and shoves it in their pocket I feel that we have taken away some of that magic. All this focus on practicality and dollar values seems to have stripped the pleasure of gift giving.

Maybe I am just being old-fashioned or reading too much into it but I love gifts that are outside of my comfort zone. I love when people buy me things that I would never have thought to buy myself. It helps me to be adventurous and experience the world. There are things I have been given that I would never in a million years of thought to buy with my money (or given money).

What are your thoughts? Is this a lost art or do I just need to get with the times?

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Happy Thursday!

My partner came home last night with a bunch of flowers. He presented them to me and said “Happy Wednesday!”

My birthday was on Monday and he didn’t bring me flowers then (although I was very spoilt all day long in many other ways). When he gave me the flowers I thought it was such a lovely gesture. It meant that I got to be appreciated for no other reason then it was today.

Earlier yesterday I was reading Rarasaur’s post about 11/12/13. You can read it here. When I read this post I was thinking just how special every day is. The flowers and my partners reason for giving them confirmed this even more.

So I wanted to share the feeling and remind you only live every day once and they are all as special as each other in some way. So,

Happy Thursday Everyone!

 

Being Different

I am often told that I am “different”. This is something that I’ve found hard to deal with over the years. I have long grappled with the true meaning of being different and why others feel the need to remark as such.

Foremost, I question what I am different too. We are all different. We all come from different places and families and different ideas and values. We come in different colours and sizes and all have parts of our bodies that we love and parts that we would change (you should see my freakishly small little toes). I have never met 2 people who are exactly the same and would never want to. I love all the differences in people in the world.

Yet if everyone is unique, why don’t we call them all “different”. This seems to indicate that “different” in this context means something else. Is it different to “us”? But then, who is “us”?

In essence it often seems that the person making the remark feels a likeness to those around them but not to me. Is this unlikeness due to my physical appearance, my choice in clothing or is it more internal? Perhaps it is my outlook on life or my values.

I think what has haunted me for so long about being “different” is the value judgement that is perceived. If someone feels the need to remark that I am different then obviously they feel I am not like them. For many years I took this to mean “not as good as” them. I could never understand why people would say this. I would think, “but we are all different and you haven’t made the same remark about anyone else”.

As I grow older, I embrace being “different”. I still find it odd that people actually feel the need to tell me that I am different. I don’t think I will ever understand that. I have wondered if it is an ignorance on their part or if it is something that makes me stand out from the crowd. I don’t feel “different”. I have always felt this way. It is only recently that I have started to be comfortable in my own skin. To feel happy and proud of the way I feel. Glad that I am “different”.

Creative Living, is it Possible?

I came to a realisation recently. I am simply not made for a 9 to 5 office job. I find myself going stir crazy caught up in the daily humdrum of office life.

At first I thought it was the work hours that was putting me off. Maybe it is. I think the real thing that makes me go bonkers is the lack of creativity. Sure, I can come up with new business strategies or present information in exciting ways, but it just isn’t what I’m after.

I want to be surrounded by colour and inspiration. I want to work with ideas and get lost in projects that are full of arts and crafts.

But the problem is, I also want to earn enough money for my family to live comfortably.

I have looked at different career paths but can’t find one for me. I think I’d prefer a lot of odd jobs here and there. I don’t really want to go back to permanent work.

Can I have my cake and eat it?

Where is My Sparkle?

Lately I have been feeling like I’ve lost my sparkle. Some days it feels like the world has gone flat.

Everyday I am growing and expanding. My life is improving and I am finding more and more time to do the things that I enjoy.

So why don’t I feel shiny anymore? I used to feel vibrant and full of life. Now, with 2 children and endless demands for my attention, I feel lost in responsibilities.

What makes us sparkle anyway? For me, it is being around people who emanate life. I love vibrant and colourful people who always have fun, no matter what the circumstances.

Now the only people I seem to find are battling their way through supermarket aisles, fighting for car parking spaces or arguing with teachers about the attention their children are getting.

I wonder if I am being too optimistic. Am I trying to find a television or movie moment that doesn’t exist in real life?

I think I sparkled before. I used to feel so free. I loved having spontaneity and going with the flow.

Perhaps I just need o find a better hobby where I can meet other people like me.

That is, if there are people like me.

The Enigma of the Beach

I love the beach. It doesn’t matter what the weather, the beach never fails to fill me with wonder.

As I walk across the sand, I think of those who may have walked here before me. I wonder where they were going. I imagine their lives and the thoughts they had as they walked across the sand.

When I see single footprints I wonder who they belong to. Why were they walking alone? Were they pondering life in the same way that I do? Would we get along if we had the chance to meet? Are they like me?

When I look out to the ocean I am mesmerised by the enigma. What is the world beneath the waves like?

Although I know they are not real, I imagine mermaids swimming through reefs. I imagine halos of sun streaming through the water and engulfing their world.

I wonder about those who have crossed the waters. And I think of those who didn’t make it.

When I see the wreckage of vessels that never reached their destinations, I wonder what it was like for those onboard. I picture myself on those majestic ocean liners of yesteryear. I imagine that the ship had all the luxuries of the Titanic.

As I look out across the water, I dream of where I would end up if I travelled across its expanse.  I imagine finding myself in exotic places, surround by riches and treasures. I picture myself immersed in a cultural wonderland.

I also find myself reflecting on times of old. I look at piers and old beach structures and imagine what the world was like when they were erected. There is a sense of romanticism and beauty in my interpretations of years passed.

But it is not just other worlds that the beach makes me think of. Whenever I walk on the beach, I find myself getting lost in my own world. The serenity and beauty of the water causes me to lose myself in reflection. I think of my life as it is. I recount my dreams. I long for the dreams that have not yet been reached. I smile at those that have.

I don’t know why it is, but for me the beach is a myriad enigmas. It makes me dream of other worlds and reflect deeply into my own.

10 Philosophies I want my Children to Live by

There are so many things you want to teach your children. It is hard to sum it all up in a few key points. So rather than capture every moral and idea I want to pass on to my children, I have decided to investigate the core elements of them all. Afterall, there are quite distinct central themes that run through all of your ideals.

Every time you scream “Put that down!” or “No you can’t!” you are attempting to instill some kind of value or philosophy on the child. Although it may not be directly pointed out, you are essentially shaping them towards some ideal or belief.

I am sure that each parent has their own philosophies in life and these are what they are attempting to pass on to their children. I would believe that although these would differ, there would be some similarities.

These are the philosophies I want my children to live by.

1. Try – Don’t give up on life when it seems too hard. When things get tough, stop and rethink it. There is normally another way to get there. You will never succeed if you stop whenever life gets difficult.

2. Your best is good enough  – It will always be good enough for me. You do not need to be an expert or prodigy in everything you attempt. There is likely that someone exists who can do things better. When you give something your all, you have succeeded. Take pride in the work that you do and the things your achieve. Judge them based on your own performance, not the performances of others.

3. Be yourself – You are you. You are fabulous just the way you are. Whilst you have to compromise on the day to day aspects of life, don’t ever compromise on who you really are. Don’t try to be something you are not.

4. Love – Don’t be afraid of your feelings. Open your heart and let others in. You will get hurt, but that is ok. There is so much to gain by loving and being loved.

5. No one has the right to judge – Nobody is perfect. Others will judge you and try to push their ideals on you. They are no different to you. They laugh and cry and feel pain just as you do. They have made mistakes and they have been hurt. The “right way” is what you believe it is. There is no certainty. Follow your heart and what is right for you.

6. Find the joy in what you doLook for the good in things and people. There is good in all things, even the worst situations. Focusing on negatives will only make you feel miserable. Find the joy and build on it.

7. It’s ok to cry – We have to feel sad to know what happiness is. Big boys do cry. Never be afraid of expressing how you feel.

8. You are special – You may not be famous. You may not be popular. Your name may not live on in history books. So what! You are still special. You are unique and you are beautiful. Your presence affects those around you and you bring joy to the lives of your friends and family.

9. You are never alone – There will be times that you feel you are alone in the world. You will feel isolated and ostracised. Remember that you are never alone. You have a family that loves you and will support you through all the challenges you face.

10. Be adventurous – Try new things. See the world. Open your eyes. Take risks and be happy.

I love both my boys very much. I know that life will be hard at times, but I hope that they will take these philosophies and find a path that suits them.