You could say I’m a traditional person. And I do love tradition more than most. I love doing the same things my ancestors did because it makes me feel tied to them. I am who I am because of tradition. Finding gifts for others at the holidays was one of my favorite traditions of all.
That was the day I realized that my husband doesn’t search for gifts. They search for him.
My husband, on the other hand, hates tradition. He couldn’t tell you anything about his great-great grandparents and he thinks Christmas trees are stupid. He also thinks gifts are unnecessarily stress-inducing. According to him, gifts are generally not something that should consume anyone’s time and energy.
Opposites attract and we’ve got that down pat. It’s quite a problematic dichotomy considering someone like me could get very offended by what seems like a lack of caring from their significant other.
In the beginning of our relationship, I religiously bought him gifts for every holiday and occasion. And without fail, they thoroughly underwhelmed him. Eventually, I gave up on him but continued with my holiday gift lists. I gave gifts to as many people as I could manage.
My Aha Moment
One day, he and I were wandering through the store when my husband stopped in front of a Chia Pet. He said, “I’m going to buy this for Dylan.” I laughed and started to walk away. But he was serious. He seriously thought Dylan would like a Chia Pet. No holiday, no birthday, just something he thought his best friend would enjoy. That was the day I realized that my husband doesn’t search for gifts. They search for him.
Gifts are funny creatures. They’re elusive and the really good ones aren’t things at all.
This was an epiphany for me, and it began to change my thinking. I have come to realize some salient points about gifts that are not rooted in the traditions I hold so dear.
Gifts are funny creatures. They’re elusive and the really good ones aren’t things at all. They don’t much care for being hunted, so they sneak around and hide in corners. Then, when you’re not looking, they plop themselves down in plain sight on some random endcap. They show up any time of the year, in any place, and they have someone’s name on them in bright neon lights. If they don’t? You, my friend, have not found a gift.
Using What I Learned
These days I tend to tell people that we just don’t do gifts- a sharp contrast from the early days of our relationship. In the literal sense, I suppose that statement wouldn’t be true. In the traditional sense, it is. I retired my holiday gift lists years ago.
I don’t worry with gifts for anyone unless the gifts find me. Minimalist, not traditionalist. It’s still a work in progress. Sometimes I feel guilty because I don’t bring a gift to a party or to Christmas morning. Other times I break my rules to relieve my guilt. At the end of the day, this change-of-heart philosophy reduces more stress than it creates, so it all comes out in the wash.
It’s not for everybody. Some people need gifts to feel loved and that’s completely ok. But seriously- it’s a love language. It’s also ok to be entirely overwhelmed by the whole gift giving process and just ditch it altogether.
There are many ways to love people. The key is in knowing who you are and what you need and who you are surrounded by and what they need. Then you can find the meet-in-the-middle that works.