When we think of Christmas, we tend to think about gift-giving. Every year, people buy books and toys for children, which is probably the most suitable way to celebrate Christmas with a child. But what about adults? Everyone wants to aim for something meaningful, but also useful, to give friends and family. Perhaps it’s time to start taking a different approach and put a more modern twist on gift-giving.
The entire premise of Christmas itself is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. On the night that Jesus was born, the three Wise Men brought him gifts, which accounts for the origin of the tradition of gift-giving.
The frantic mall shopping and last-minute gift card purchases are supposed symbolize what the three Wise Men did for baby Jesus. However the tradition of gift-giving is losing its meaning in modern times, so it’s time to change the tradition.
I think the problem arises from the questions we ask. When we ask somebody for Christmas gift ideas, we are asking the person what he or she wants rather than what he or she needs. We want many things that we don’t necessarily need. We want those shoes we saw at the mall. We want the newest model of the iPhone. We want the newest video game that everyone is raving about.
Perhaps the time has come to think about what we really need instead of what we want.
We need to fill up the gas tank before it empties. We need to pay the bills we’ve been putting to the side. We need to get groceries instead of continuously eating out. The problem is that we’re spending money on gifts that our loved ones don’t necessarily need but what everyone wants, there’s a way to fix this though.
We should put more thought into how we can help others. Start asking, “What do you need?” rather than, “What do you want?” Giving someone something he or she needs is thoughtful and useful. Doing this reduces the chance of buying that person something he or she already has. Stop assuming the gift we plan to give is something that the person really wants or will like. Fill up someone’s gas tank or buy that person a grocery store gift card.
Do something that will help that person in his or her daily life, rather than buying a moment or two of happiness for him or her. It should more of a beneficial in the long run, most of the time.
The question of why we continue to give gifts may have many answers, such as for the sake of tradition, out of thoughtfulness or because it’s what the Wise Men did for Jesus. The practice of giving gifts, though, has become problematic. If we focus on what people need, to help them in their everyday lives, we can put meaning back into the practice of giving gifts.