Around Christmas time I often see comments asking for advice or complaining about people (often grandparents) who give too many gifts to children at Christmas. Some of these comments get quite angry.
These complaints range from not having enough space to not wanting the children to think Christmas is all about presents. Although these are all valid arguments for asking family members to restrain themselves – we need to keep a few other things in mind.
Theology of the Body and Presents
What does this have to do with Theology of the Body? Well, at the core of the Theology of the Body is the idea that we’re called to make a gift of ourselves. But if we’re called to make a gift of ourselves then we need to recognise that others are also called to make a gift themselves.
And we need to learn to accept that gift.
When looking at what someone else has to offer us, we often see it only from our own perspective. We judge the gift the person is making (whether physical, or a gift of time, emotion etc) from the perspective of what it can do for me, or what the benefit is to me. If the gift doesn’t suit us, our ideas, our lifestyle – we reject it.
We need to start looking at what the gift is saying to us about what that person is offering.
What’s their Love Language?
Let’s take the example of the over gifting grandparents. First, it’s important to know there are five primary ways we feel and give love. We need to recognise that, for some people, gifts are the primary way they feel and receive love.
Now if this isn’t your love language you might find this difficult to understand, but what’s important is seeing the meaning behind the action. Then you recognise the true “gift of self” being made.
What’s their motivation?
There are also other factors we need to consider before judging the giver. Other then an expression of love, what else can be motivating the giver?
Looking at the motivation behind the action is an important social skill we often don’t learn about (look out for upcoming post on empathy.).
Back to the grandparents… Maybe they didn’t have much as children. Maybe they couldn’t provide many material things for their own children as they were growing up – and now they can. Maybe they feel insecure about their relationship to their grandchildren (or their own children). Maybe they’re not sure how best to connect with their grandchildren.
There can be hundreds of different reasons a person might disregard your request to only give one gift. Before letting frustration get the better of us, we need to take a step back and see from the giver’s perspective.
Many of us, especially when it comes to our children, react quickly to things we’ve decided aren’t right for them – and rightly so! Our children need our protection. And as parents it’s our duty to make decisions for our family.
But, like all human relationships, we are not the only people involved. It’s natural for our kids to be the primary focus. But what’s the value of other relationships in our lives?
We need to balance what’s best for our children with the needs of others we wish to remain in relationship with.
(Now I’m not saying compromise your children’s up bringing for the sake of others around you. Just to weigh the importance of a single issue (in this case number of presents) with the importance of someone else’s needs.)
And remember, your child might also feel and express love best through gifts. And that’s ok – it doesn’t mean they’re materialists. Gifts can take the shape of home made crafts, etc. But some of that over indulgence at Christmas might be speaking right into their hearts.
Question: Are you someone who likes to give lots? Why do you do it? Or are you someone who’d rather there are less presents? And what’s the motivation? How can you teach the same value in the presence of presents? You can comment by clicking here.