Photography by justinpheap.co

Advent: How To Give Good Gifts

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2.11

Several years ago, I was in the store shopping for a gift to give to one of my best friends –a mentor to me, a father of five–he was my age, we liked similar things, and we had known each other for more than ten years at that point. I had my children with me and they were certain they had found the perfect gift for my friend.

“Over here,” they yelled with excitement. I turned the cart down the toy aisle knowing where this was headed. This was pre-Mandalorian, so get back on track. Lo and behold, my then 6-year old son thought the latest Nerf gun would be the absolute best gift for my buddy; not to be outdone, my girls in a different aisle were confident that a baby doll would make the very best gift. I couldn’t help but laugh.

And we can laugh at that because we’ve all been there: wanting to give someone a gift that we would want to receive –a gift that conveys love to us.

I love deconstruction and this is actually quite a wonderful thing to explore: there’s a process, or a spectrum, of moving from one end where you’re buying someone a gift that you yourself would want to receive, to buying a gift that you know they will enjoy, to ultimately bringing someone a gift they will enjoy while also drawing out the best within them: the gift that really does keep on giving.

One of the most fundamental, often missed, and transformative points of gift-giving is to express our appreciation of a person for who they are and who they are becoming; a celebration of what is and what could be.

And actually, reality can be a bit more surprising: often times, our first attempts at gift-giving are spot-on. Think of a 5-year old child who makes their parent a craft “project” all about how you are the “BEST IN THE WORLD!”

We’ll cherish the sentiment of a poorly drawn stick figure, hot glue, and glitter –but we also experience a very real sense of awe as we glimpse how they perceive the world: we are the best human being in the universe. And something magical happens as it makes us believe we can be as amazing, strong, and awesome as they think we are.

One of the most fundamental, often missed, and transformative points of gift-giving is to express our appreciation of a person for who they are and who they are becoming; a celebration of what is and what could be.

The gifts that the Magi in Matthew 2 bring to Jesus are perfect examples! In a very real, earthly sense, Jesus was not yet king; but the gifts –valuable in and of themselves– also spoke to who Jesus would become. Indeed, you can feel the nature of “advent” in that story!

As you shop or bake or gather items to craft a gift for your family and friends this season, you can rest in knowing it’s a beautiful thing to give good gifts!

The point is not about paying more money, but paying more attention to those around you, to know their heart. The best gifts are those that you are compelled to give because you have taken the time to know a person well; and because of that friendship–that relationship–you find, create, craft something they can enjoy and that draws out the very best within them.

Also, we learned nothing about gift wrapping.

Creative Agency Founder writing on ideation, art, and design. Photographer at unsplash.com/justinpheapco.

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