The Art of Gift Giving
I am learning from my mother how to give gifts.
For a recent work anniversary, she gave me a gift certificate to my favorite coffee shop; a big, big sack of flame raisins - a snack that I cannot get enough of - and a reusable bag to buy them in.
And what made these presents great was that I felt so seen by them, like she really knew me.
These gifts didn't take a lot of money. What they took was attention. My mother paid attention to what I loved, and then honored me with them.
So, riffing off my mother's example, I've started a document of gift notes. When a friend mentions he likes a particular brand of sock or a relative raves about a certain chocolate company, I jot it down in my gift notes. And I do it right after we speak so I don't forget.
When their birthday rolls around, they're going through a rough patch, or I want to let them know they're loved, I'll send them something that they love. But really what I'm sending, or at least hoping to send, is the message, in gift form, that I see them and care for them.
And perhaps the best part of this document is this: Because it's shown me the pleasure of giving someone something they want, it's encouraged me to pay that much more attention to those around me. To listen to them completely. Not only for what they love, but for who they are.
And, of course, we can give people wonderful gifts - socks and chocolates and gift certificates. But the best of what we can give anyone, though, has been and forever will be our attention.