Thoughts by Richard Bleil
One of the proverbial “languages of love” are signs of affection, that is, purchases. I grew up that way. When I expressed that I felt as if I wasn’t loved, my parents were quick to point out the many gifts that they give me, like a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, food on the table. Other gifts had to wait for Christmas or my birthday.
I still speak this language. I love surprising people with gifts. I’m not a fan of Christmas, but mainly because I don’t have anybody to spoil. And as much as I dislike commercialism, I do understand the concept behind the gifts. Yes, you can point to the Biblical reason; the three wise men gave gifts to the baby Jesus and his mother, so we also give gifts, but judging on the way people were driving today, we’re not all that wise. It’s also a way to show appreciation and gratitude. Christmas is more generic, but I often think of birthdays and their deeper meaning. Yes, when I was growing up it meant that I was allowed to choose the restaurant where we would eat, but it’s more than just that. It’s a way to celebrate the anniversary when the person for whom we are celebrating came into the world, and into our lives. It’s a way of saying how we appreciate what that person brings to us, and we give gifts as a way of returning some of that to them. This is why I spend my birthdays alone.
I do not like Christmas, but honestly, it’s not really Christmas itself that I find distasteful. It’s the fact that I have nobody to spoil. At my advanced age, I have no children, no family, and I struggle that I cannot buy gifts for others. But isn’t it marvelous when just that one perfect gift shows up?
I’m trying to start a new failed business, this time being photography. So I’ve created an online storefront (bleilphotography.picfair.com), and have started uploading some of my more interesting photos. At a nature reserve, a hive of bees cultivated by the center was preparing to relocate. I held my camera up and snapped off several photographs. One of them turned out beautifully, with about five bees that seemed to be flying towards the group in formation. I had a short f-stop and high lens speed, so the bees were in sharp focus with the background bees blurred out. It is very artistic, and a photo that I’m rather proud of. When I uploaded it, the host site actually offers prints of the photos for a small additional fee, so I ordered a canvas print on a frame. The idea was to see how high the quality of these prints are and get experience at doing it. And it was beautiful.
But that left me with the question of where to hang it? Well, honestly, I don’t need to hang it in my room, and I was struck with a truly inspirational thought. One of my best friends actually has a beehive, and I know she loves bees. So, of course, I shipped it to her. I can’t say if she likes it or not because she hasn’t received it, but I’m sure she will before this posts. This same friend, as it turns out, made a social media post inviting people to post their wish lists from the major online shopping empire that needs no more money. Most of the people who replied I don’t know, but we do have a few mutual friends. So, I thought I’d surprise my friends and pick a gift from their lists and buy them.
Then, I though, why not do this for all of them? There were, oh, not quite a dozen people, so I made it a point to go and buy things for all of them. Not because I know them or their situation, but honestly, just to put a little bit of magic into their holiday season. Just because I have nobody to spoil doesn’t mean that I don’t want to have somebody to spoil.
This week, about a week before this blog posts, the bulk of these orders have been or will be delivered. I’m watching my “orders” with great anticipation, and enjoying seeing what will be, or has been, delivered and when.
One of my mutual friends happens to be the daughter of a beautiful friend of mine. Since I know her (and her mother), I did pick a higher end gift for her, a projector that can be used to project onto a wall. I have this marvelous fantasy that she will create a kind of drive-in in her yard for her kids and the neighborhood kids. And for all of the gifts that I did buy, I honestly hope I get none in return. That’s not the point. I never want to give gifts in anticipation and hopes of getting something in return. In my opinion, if I did this, it would be a negotiation, not a gift. I just want to bring a little unexpected joy to people, even if I don’t know who they are, and if they stress about returning the favor it really defeats the purpose of what it is that I’m trying to do.
But in the meantime, I’m just having great fun thinking about what people are feeling as they get these unexpected surprises.