On Gifts

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“Anna smiled. It was just as she’d thought. Gifts, she recalled him saying, aren’t frivolous things, they’re very necessary. They’re demonstrations of love and affection, and their “excess” makes life more than mere drudgery. You can do without many things, Anna, but not gifts, however small and insignificant they might seem.

From Myst: The Book of Ti’ana
(Yes, I know, reading that book makes me a huge geek, but it is one of my favorite book series.)

So, here’s the thing about me: I am a terrible verbal communicator of feelings, on the whole. It’s something I work on, but am not good at.

I am, however, good at giving gifts, tokens, trinkets. I’m not talking about Christmas GIFTGANZA. I suck at that. I’m talking about everyday “I’m thinking about you” or “You’re awesome!” type gifts. Things like leaving a Hershey’s kiss on a keyboard for a birthday (it helps when you have master keys to the building) or making a blanket for a friend who had admired one you previously made. Things like bringing a cookie to someone having a rough day, taking time to recommend a book, or making baked goods sans chocolate (heresay!) so all can enjoy. I think the most meaningful gift I ever made was a dinner of (as I recall) spaghetti, salad, and yellow cake for a friend’s family when her father died. Mike and I drove to her family’s house and left it on the door. I didn’t want to be in the way, I didn’t want to send flowers, but I wanted to do something to let them know that I was thinking of them.

In a way, it kind of fits that I’m in IT (although, if you had asked 18 year old me, I would have laughed at you). Every time I get to help someone, it’s like a little gift, and they’re happier for it. I thrive on being able to do something for them that makes their day brighter.

Mike and I had a long discussion about this last night (hence the fuel for post). I iterated that while I certainly don’t expect anything in return for these gifts (indeed, they’re often spontaneous, like when I tried to buy brownie mix for a friend across the country, and didn’t read carefully enough and ended up sending it to myself), I feel like people don’t realize that it is my way of trying to gain acceptance and friendship. It feels like my way of saying, “Hey, I think you’re cool, we should hang out more often.” in a friendship kind of way.

I’m certainly not complaining or bemoaning the fact that other people don’t see these gifts the way I do. I understand that everyone is different, and they may see a cookie as YES CHOCOLATE! and not an overture of friendship. I imagine most people have no problem being like, “Hey, let’s go out for lunch!” It’s hard to make new friends, man.

I’m really trying to walk the fine line of not sounding whiny and annoying here while still explaining my viewpoint.

Let’s bring this back around to the quote, shall we? As mentioned, that quote is from the Myst series of books (yes, from the video game). I really identify with it, because it just seems so fitting in my philosophy. (That, and the quote from the same book, where Aitrus’ mother tells him he was born old.) Simple, thoughtful gifts/trinkets/tokens/what-have-you are just part of my vocabulary. They’re just not verbal.

I feel like this is finishing lamely, and I probably have more to say on this subject. I almost made an outline, but then I thought that might be too much effort for a blog post. It is, after all, the internet.

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