If you were to ask me to name a few things in life that I absolutely adore doing, I would say that gift-giving and doing other nice things for the people I love would be rattled off right up there with travel, writing, and of course, BEING with the people I love.
The gift-giving thing? I really love it. Really, really love it, in fact. I’m really, really good at it, too. (So is my sister, as a matter of fact!) I put lots of thought into it, which shouldn’t be a surprise to you if you know me because I’m always thinking.
I’m the type of person that will remember something you casually mention you like for ten full months until your birthday so I can get it, wrap it in pretty paper, and present it to you as if I bought it on a whim. I have bookmarked things online that family and friends share because they think they’re cool, pretty, awesome, or whatever, for later gift consideration. I will buy something at the store if it reminds me of you, and sometimes I’ll save it for your birthday or Hanukkah or Christmas but sometimes I’ll just box it up and put it in the mail (or bring it to you personally) because I know it will make your day. When I have time and if I have a brilliant idea, I will spend my time creating something for you with my own hands.
The biggest benefit I get out of being a giver is seeing your happiness. Truly. I never, EVER seek anything in return. I don’t give gifts to get gifts, and I don’t do nice things for you with expectations of a return. You should not feel guilty or any other negative emotion when I give you something. If you do, please stop, because you’re harshing your own mellow.
One of my close friends once said that if there’s anything she’s learned from me, it’s just to say “thank you.” That meant a lot to me. She gets it.
I can’t prove it, but I believe that my tendencies towards being generous with gifts, my time, my ear, my…whatever, came from my grandmother. She died when I was ten and a half, but I feel strongly that in that decade I knew her, she imparted a lifetime’s worth of wisdom to me. One of the things that everyone who knew her always mentions when talking about her is the reputation she had for being generous. She was always thinking of others. In fact, when she died my mom told me that when she had the heart attack (her fourth) that led to her passing, Grandma was talking about the candy she was going to buy for me, my sister, and our cousins.
That in itself, of course, is nothing special. That just made her a typical grandma, but I was comforted to know that she was thinking of us kids in her last hours, and that has stuck with me ever since. Naturally I learned a lot about generosity from my parents as well, but I carry inspiration from my Grandma around everywhere. I like to think that when I perform kind acts or give a gift that is particularly thoughtful, I’m honoring her.
The moral of the story? When you are the beneficiary of something nice—whether it’s a gift or an act of kindness—from anyone, just smile and say thank you. That’s a pretty good gift in itself.