How to Give the Best Gift

*Disclaimer: I fully recognize that I am not the first person to write about this topic or to share this perspective. However, I feel strongly about sharing it on the blog as it is such a large part of how I try to live my life.

What is one thing that everyone would like more of? Something that is one size fits all, is very low cost, is hard to forget, and leaves a lasting impact? The gift of time.

The Inspiration: After building our wedding registry and hosting our bridal shower, I felt truly at a loss for words to accurately express my gratitude in light of of everyone’s generosity. The items that we received were absolutely amazing: lots of kitchen gadgets, home goods, and pieces that will allow us to entertain lots more (sorry, Joey!). Although I was so excited to receive all of these fantastic items, what made me feel even more grateful was the fact that my family and friends took time out of their days to spend some time together celebrating. The aspect that I was particularly touched by was the commitment of my bridesmaids. One was experiencing the end of semester crunch in her graduate program and probably could have used the time to study, but was still there with an outpouring of love and support. One had just flown back to the states from a trip to London, and was jet lagged as all heck, but still drove the three hours to be together to celebrate with all of the energy and enthusiasm. Another had to hop right in the car after things wrapped up to drive five hours to make it to a professional conference for work. More importantly, I know that these aren’t the only examples of sacrifice and commitment. Each person there probably had three or four other things that they could have been doing, but they decided to attend, to visit, share a meal, and celebrate mine and Joey’s upcoming nuptials.

The Analysis: This initial thought spurred an even deeper reflection; it is the gift of someone’s time that is the most valuable. Take a moment to think: when spending a weekend visiting friends or family, when faced with a bittersweet goodbye of a loved one, or when feeling the deep pangs of missing someone you haven’t seen in a while or are no longer able to see, it is time that we wished we had more of. At this point in the post, I have a funny feeling that you will be able to at least recall one moment in life when you wish you had more time. You can imagine what it felt like when having so much fun or feeling so much [love, liberation, laughter, fill in the blank…] you felt like you never wanted the moment to end. This is a shared experience, yet, we often do not talk about it. Furthermore, we often do not take action to change or truly address it, to create more time.

The Action: In our present day we seem to always be rushing from one thing to the next. (If you know me personally, you know that I do not dislike many things more than I dislike the feeling of being rushed.) And, if we aren’t rushed, we are distracted by our phones or whatever is on the TV. Okay, okay, I know. There ARE a ton of distractions and we can’t be present all day, every day, in every interaction. But maybe, if we try just a little bit harder we will be able to actually give meaning to “quality time” once again. How can we do this? By giving the gift of time. Time is our most valuable commodity. Recently, I have started giving experience based gifts to those whom I love, or, suggesting such when asked what I would like as a gift. Experience based gifts are meant to be experiences had together with the person for whom you are gifting AND are quite literally the gift of your time. This does not need to be a lavish weekend trip, an Instagram worthy fancy dinner, or a pricey concert. This could be a morning at the farmer’s market [virtually free besides the cost of transportation and based on how much self control you have not to buy every single artisanal baked goods]. It could be a two hour coffee date at the local coffee shop [less than $5?] Or even inviting someone over for take-out pizza and a glass of wine [no crazy efforts needed besides paper plates and a corkscrew]. Day trips are my personal favorite to gift and receive as it allows a shared experience of discovering a new place with someone you love. (Again, I know that I am most definitely not the first person to think of this, but hopefully by sharing these thoughts, you may begin to reflect on this idea as well.) It is the effort of remaining present and showing to the other person “I care about you so much, I want to spend my most precious commodity on you, I want to spend my time with you.” How will you show the ones you care most about that you are present and that they are worthy of your time?

A Concluding Thought: We get caught up on making things extravagant and picture perfect. Literally and figuratively. I am the FIRST person to get caught up on making sure the little details are perfect when hosting (something I am actively working on), however, in many situation those faux-high-stress details don’t actually matter. Forget about the social media expectations, whether your floors are swept, and whether your meal will be ready perfectly at 6 p.m. for when you guests arrive. Refocus, take action, remain present, and let’s make some memories.

Julia Xx

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