Recently, my friend Linda shared a precious holiday memory with me. The memory was about the time her youngest son, around the age of eight, earnestly wanted to discuss the reality of Santa Claus. Linda told me that every time her children would ask her if Santa Claus was real or not, she would reply that as long as the children believed in Santa Claus, then Santa Claus would bring presents to them for Christmas. Then she would ask her children to tell her if Santa Claus was real or not. Even now, with her youngest child now being twenty-five years old, whenever the children are asked if Santa Claus is real, the children always reply (with much enthusiasm) that Santa Claus is very real.
But this particular talk about Santa Claus was very special. What made this talk so special was about how Santa Claus was, in reality, the spirit of giving. A brief discussion about gift giving history took place, and then a discussion about the definition of “spirit” laid down the foundation for “the talk.” For the purposes of the talk, “spirit” was defined as a “feeling.” Discussion about how someone could be in “low spirits” if they were unhappy about something, and in “good spirits” if they were happy.
Careful attention to detail was taken to explain that sometimes a person gives something of themselves without needing or wanting to be thanked. This “gift” can be a solid object, such as a personalized mug or keepsake, or an intangible item like a hug or time. This action of “giving” often makes the person that performs the action have a really good feeling. Many children have difficulty understanding the concept, but this is what is behind the adage “It is better to give than to receive.”
Perhaps we, as adults, should take a closer look at the types of gifts that we bestow upon our children. We should consider that in addition to a special personalized item that may be that special gift that a child keeps long past their childhood – that we are also instilling the true spirit of love while gift giving.
Thinking about that sweet story that Linda shared with me, I thought back to an earlier blog post that I had written about gifts for kids that actually last and think that perhaps this type of gift, the understanding of what gift-giving is really all about, might be an appropriate addition to that blog post.
Linda told me that at first she was afraid that her explanation was too sophisticated for her son to fully comprehend. But every year at Christmas ever since that talk, there has been a gift under their Christmas tree, to Linda (the tag actually says “to Mom”) from Santa. The handwriting on the tag looks suspiciously like her youngest son’s handwriting.
The explanation continued that sometimes people want to give friends or family gifts for Christmas simply because they want to see the looks of delight and joy on the faces of the person who has opened the present. Just that look of joy is all the thanks that the “gifter” wants. They don’t want the person who received the gift to feel obligated in any way to the person who gave the present. This is pure, unadulterated joy; the “spirit of giving.”