You Aren't Silly if You Think the Best Part of Christmas Is Receiving Gifts.
The art of giving and, of course, receiving
Without a doubt, I am speaking as someone who is not particularly religious. I believe that Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza have more meanings than just trees, food, and gifts for religious people. Nonetheless, I can't help but believe that presents are a crucial part of Christmas, even for fervent believers. This is because gift sharing is a considerably more significant ritual than we often imagine when done without greed or expectations.
Many studies have discovered, for example, that spending money on people we care about makes us particularly pleased.
Let's talk about gifts!
Sure, it's not all about the money or the iPads and other gimmicks... It's about the significance of presents, their symbolism, and the feelings of appreciation they elicit.
Now, it’s true: there are times when Christmas gifting is all about that shallowness. Wondering if your sisters got better presents than you, or why your significant other spent just a third of what you did and ended up gifting you only a frying pan when you got them that beautiful shirt and a Nintendo switch.
But, if there is an anti-bias reason why we should never think that way when it comes to gifts, is the fact that as humans, we easily fall into the attribution error trap. In other words, we understand our trade-offs when it comes to not being able to find the perfect present, but we are convinced that people intentionally give us very anti-climatic gifts. But hey, deep down you know it: it’s not an easy job that of a gift hunter!
When you indulge in presents for others, you are not only benefitting them but also benefiting yourself.
You’ll strengthen your bonds, produce feel-good chemicals in both you and the recipient, and, believe it or not, you could even decrease your blood pressure.
What is the finest present?
The quick answer is any present, as you might anticipate. And although that is true, aren't we here to have a conversation? Sure, when I say "discussion," I'm referring to the act of me talking about all of my opinions and you reading about them. Nonetheless...
So, while I feel that every gift is a means of expressing thanks and having a wonderful Christmas, I do believe that there are some really excellent alternatives out there that are worth considering.
I recently wrote on the advantages of giving books, for example.That is because when you gift a book, you gift a whole world. You give someone somewhere to escape to, something to learn, and yes…they are very easy to wrap.
In more general terms though, I love receiving what I call “personal gifts”. Something that has meaning around my connection with the person gifting it to me, or vice versa. Photos, DIY cards, vouchers for a dinner together, experiences, etc.
“There is no duty more indispensable than that of returning a kindness” — Cicero.
Reciprocity is a social norm in social psychology that involves responding to a positive deed with some other positive action, therefore reinforcing kind behaviours. Reciprocity, as a social construct, means that in reaction to friendly activities, individuals are usually kinder and more cooperative than expected by the self-interest model; conversely, in response to hostile actions, people are frequently considerably nastier and even violent.
As a result, giving a Christmas present may result in additional gifts being received! And there’s no shame in acknowledging that it feels great! But, even if you’re the single donor and not a receiver, I’m sure you’ll feel good about it!
I mean, I do. I feel good giving. So yes, shallow or not… gifts are the best part of the festivities!