Gift giving is the cement of social relationships. The thought of people going beyond the concerns of themselves and placing their generosity on others is a gratifying thing. Being able to see the impact of giving a loved one a gift is a gift in itself. When thinking about choosing a gift, the gift is more than likely always revolved around what the receiver likes or what it most significant to the receiver. When we think about getting someone a gift, we stop and think about their qualities, passions and what they love.
Anthropologists have studied gift exchange in non-Western cultures and have emphasized that gift exchange fulfills an important function of continuity and solidification of cultures, friendships and society. Additionally, it was emphasized that the closer the relationship, the less concerned the giver or receiver was concerned about quid pro quo. Instead, they felt they had a reciprocal relationship that went beyond the quality of the actual gift.
During this season of the year, selfless gift giving is an enormous theme during the Christmas holiday. But this year may have brought on economic hardships and gift giving may be difficult for most this season. It becomes the concern of what one could give another when financial resources are limited. Although Christmas is associated with gift giving, Christmas is also the season of offering blessings. To offer a blessing is to offer love, care and happiness to those you love. Additionally, offering a blessing to a stranger can oftentimes be even more gratifying.
Perhaps the societal constructs of gift giving have allowed us to forget what else we can offer. We can still offer gifts beyond material objects. Offering the blessing of unconditional positive regard and generosity as someone utilizes their gifts and talents and offer blessings by assisting a stranger or a loved one not only increases their feeling of belonging but it also is a reminder for all how important and significant relationships are.
Ashley Bergman, B.S. Professional Counseling/MFT
Graduate Student Therapist
Disclaimer: Topics and subjects that pertain to any individual(s) is coincidental.The content of this article does not constitute mental health assessment, diagnosis, treatment or support. Please consult a mental health practitioner if you would like to seek counseling.