Thoughts by Richard Bleil
For someone who truly dislikes Christmas as I do, I sure make efforts to make sure others enjoy theirs. My friend, on her social media page, created a post suggesting that people put their wish lists in the comments section for an online shopping site that I’m trying very hard not to mention by name. And many people did (by many, I mean, oh, eight or nine, maybe). Some of them I know personally, some I do not know at all.
One things I’ve noticed some time ago is that random surprises form complete strangers can be more fun than gifts from friends and loved ones. If I pay for somebody’s groceries, it’s always a pleasant surprise, but if their mother pays, for example, then it’s still a sweet gesture, but not nearly as impactful. I should be, but let’s be honest; it just isn’t.
When people started posting their wish lists, I decided to make good on some items for the friends that I knew. Then I thought, as long as I’m at it, maybe I should try to surprise everyone. So, five hundred dollars later, everyone (unless there are latecomers of whom I am not aware) will be getting something from their wish list. I’ll be honest, my friends will be getting a little more, usually something of higher value, but I tried to choose something fun off of everybody’s wish list. The first one I scheduled to be delivered tomorrow (as of the writing of this blog).
I don’t expect anything in return. In fact, I truly hope that none of them feel obligated to return the favor or attempt to do so. That would defeat the purpose of this experiment. Gifts should be given freely and without expectation of anything in return. If someone gives a gift expecting that the favor be returned, then it’s not a gift, but rather a negotiation. I have to admit, after treating everybody I could, I did treat myself to an item off of my own wish list as well, since I know what I want better than anybody else does.
My friend gets angry when I treat her with a gift. Okay, to be fair, I do it too often, but what I give her isn’t “stuff”. The gifts that I give to her are just physical manifestations to tell her that I was thinking about her. If I am somewhere, and think of her, and wish she was with me, then I will look for a little something that I hope she will like, something to surprise her, and simply something to say that she was on my mind.
Now comes another fun part. As of the writing of this blog, none of the gifts have been delivered, and many of them will be unexpected. I know the recipients will like them (since they chose them), but the surprise of getting them from this guy they don’t even know should add to their excitement (I hope). Now, I have to be patient. I cannot let them know what I’ve ordered (or even that they have something on the way) and the anticipation is delicious. It’s reminiscent of Christmas Eve, trying to sleep, excited to see what I will get from Santa.
This anticipation of the unknown is something that we’re probably losing as a society. I bought myself a gift off of my own wish list, and I can track its progress so I know exactly when it will arrive. It’s not the same as receiving a gift, and as it is becoming easier to just order for yourself and track its progress, that anticipation is being lost, along with the excitement that comes with it.
The reality is that I am too alone to enjoy a holiday season that celebrates families. I do enjoy spoiling children, on those rare times when I was with a woman who had children to spoil, but being alone on the holidays is, well, it’s terrible. But I still believe that others should enjoy their holidays, and I do enjoy trying to bring a little magic into their lives. Yes, when I receive an unexpected gift, I certainly do enjoy it, but I enjoy giving far more than receiving. By giving to others, they get a little special surprise, but at the same time I get to enjoy bringing that surprise to them. So I hope that all of my friends, and those who will be getting something from me, have a great and magical Holiday season, while I watch stupid movies and hide from the world.