Posted by: joha5 | December 17, 2010

‘Tis the Season: Why Giving is Better than Receiving

There were a lot of things that were confusing about Christmas when I was a kid.  I was confused as to how Santa got up and down the chimney or how he managed to get into and out of people’s houses who didn’t even have one.  I was confused as to why some people got everything they wanted – and oftentimes more – and why some people didn’t get much at all.  I was confused as to how the hell Santa managed to stop at everybody’s house across the world so quickly.  Christmas was quite the mystery.  The only thing that I knew I had to do every year was wake up early in the morning on December 25th and there would be presents for me underneath the tree.  That knowledge alone was always enough to make me forget about any questions I had about Christmas or Santa.

Spiderman AND Nerf?! Who cares about how this stuff got here?!

Consequently, it would blow my mind when I would hear adults say the old adage ‘it’s always better to give than to receive’.  My little brain would explode upon hearing such an inaccurate statement.

What?!  How can that be?!  Adults must want presents too!

It wasn’t until my pituitary gland sprang into action and the rumors began swirling around school that Santa didn’t actually exist that I realized it was my mom who was behind all of this madness.  Then – and only then – did I really think about what it meant to give rather than to receive.  I mean, I had always given my family presents but they were never anything to write home about: a Christmas ornament I made at school, a clay sculpture that took me 5 minutes to make, a candy cane that I had left over in my backpack, and so on and so forth.  The thought process behind my giving didn’t really exist.  Up until that point my simple early-years brain could only process the notion of ‘more stuff’ and not ‘think deeply about individuals, figure out what they would like that they don’t already have, figure out a way to get money to purchase these items, find a way to the store to get them, and then return home to wrap them and put them under the tree’.  See how complicated it was?!  Besides, we didn’t have the internet back then – how weird is that? – so that was literally the only way to go about getting ready for Christmas.

Many things have changed since then – the invention of the internet, our family traditions, how I go about getting money to fund gifts in the first place – but the one major thing that has definitely changed from when I was a little boy is just how much I actually love giving people presents.  Honestly.  I love it.  I am not saying this to paint myself as some modern-day saint or that I am some super generous philanthropist who gives away have of my annual salary to get people presents.  I am not and I don’t. 

There is just something incredibly rewarding about finding that perfect present for somebody that you really care about.  The high just seems to last longer.  I currently do most of my shopping online and this is not because I have an aversion to the mall or to stores or whatever.  It is purely because the possibilities for presents online are limitless whereas if I go to the mall I am limited in scope.  This year I managed to get all of my shopping done earlier than I ever have before – more than 2 weeks before Christmas Day – and this week has been so much fun for me.  All of the gifts that I have purchased have slowly been arriving on my front doorstep (not even half have come yet!) and every morning when I wake up and afternoon before I go to work I get to inhabit my inner 7-year-old self and run down the stairs to the front door to see if anything has arrived like I used to run down the stairs to the Christmas tree to see what Santa had brought.  I mean, the guy who is usually standing there – if he or she hasn’t already just left the package on the doorstep –  is almost always in an off-brown suit and makes me sign some weird electronic machine and he isn’t really as affable as I would imagine Santa to be…but I guess it is better than nothing. 

This guy seems pretty affable but he also seems to be opening the presents as well. Unacceptable.

I run upstairs and tear open the packages like I used to when I was a kid sitting under the Christmas tree with family and friends.  Only instead of getting excited that it is stuff for me, I start getting excited over the visions I have of people’s reactions to their gifts, how much I think they will love what I have gotten them, and how I just can’t wait for them to open it.  As of this minute, I have a small pile in my bedroom of about 4 to 5 boxes of different sizes full of presents for my family and closest friends and, in a weird way, this is making me more excited than the actual day of Christmas will.  For the next 8 days my only job now is to get more and more into the Christmas spirit, wrap my presents, and put them under the tree.  There is still plenty left to do to prepare for the holidays but this one part that I used to struggle to comprehend when I was a kid is now the highlight of the season for me…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.



  1. I think we all had those same thoughts.
    I was one of the ones who never received very many gifts at Christmas….maybe thats why I over buy for my children now.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.


    • Hey Raven!

      I was very lucky growing up with my family and friend’s generosity but it wasn’t until I was older when I realized why they were all being so generous. I like to think that I do the same now to my family and friend’s…and I only hope that I do. I wouldn’t be surprised to see your children turn into incredibly well-rounded and generous adults when they have had their hand in developing their own Christmas traditions! You’ll have to let me know! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

      Merry Christmas to you too!

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