Do you buy gifts the person wants to receive or gifts you want to give? That seems silly, right? But, is it? People close to me always ask for me to provide them with a Christmas list. I am hard to buy for, or so the story goes. The older I get the less value I find in things and the more difficult it is to come up with such a list. I prefer something practical or an experience. However, practical isn’t personal (special) and an experience is hard to put in a wrapped box under the tree. This practice can become frustrating for all involved.
I once worked with a woman who, for her birthday, received a large, gorgeous bouquet of flowers from her husband. This was no normal bouquet. This delivery stood over 3 feet tall. It was filled with exotic flowers. It was stunningly beautiful. She, however, cried. Like, real crocodile tears, crying. These were not tears of joy. This particular lady had a very difficult time controlling her emotions. If she was sad everyone knew it. The tears would fall like rain.
It turns out she was upset over the flowers. What? Selfish, right? Or, is it? Long story short (too late on that Ms. Carol)… she had asked her husband for a $35 answering machine for her birthday. That is all she really wanted. She wanted an inexpensive answering machine. What she got instead was a very elaborate, very expensive delivery of flowers to her work. She wasn’t ungrateful. She was hurt. This was a standard pattern for her husband. The flowers were beautiful, but they left her feeling empty. She felt unheard.
He wasn’t buying a gift she wanted. He bought, and had delivered, a gift that made him look good. But, to whom? Are the gifts you give what the individual wants or what you want to give? Are you meeting an emotional need for the receiver or for you, the giver?
Just some thoughts for us all to ponder.