My father has, to my knowledge, never bought a Christmas gift. Never picked one out. Never wrapped one (though he has spent many a Christmas eve building Lego castles and assembling bicycles). The irony is that he is notoriously the most difficult person to buy a gift for. The one who criticises bad wrapping. Who makes it abundantly clear when a present is ill conceived or not appropriate. Who even checks to see if a personal note has been inscribed in the book cover. God forbid it’s late. If so, get ready for an extra helping of Brussels on your plate.
There are many reasons for this of course. He looks for the thought behind the gift. The reasoning that led to the choice of this over that – that made it – for you – the perfect gift – for him. He cares that we care. He measures it by the gift and the wrapping right through to the personal note (simply saying Happy Christmas love X isn’t enough here either – blunder at this final hurdle and expect the parson’s nose, no gravy).
In proof of this, he often refers back to one Christmas where money was tight – it always was, but this year worse than normal – and we as children, minus even pocket money for cards, made our own and drew pictures of elves and reindeer for our parents instead. These were his favourite presents because we could easily – and were instructed to – not bother at all that Christmas. We disregarded that instruction and spent the time and effort to make sure they got presents too.
In many ways, this is similar to work. Your boss expects you to give something each and every day. They expect you to have thought about it rather than just pushing it out. They want it to have paid attention to detail, to come wrapped up and ready to go. To be personal. To be of a standard no different when times are good or bad. To be given without expecting anything – even a thank you – in return. Especially now, the thanks should come from you for having the opportunity to give.
Gifts tell you a lot about people. They tell you what they think – or don’t – about you. They also tell you something about that person in general. Thoughtless gifts usually come from thoughtless people. Thoughtless people who are perhaps thoughtless not just for Christmas. Who are incapable of thinking you can see the thoughtlessness that went into it. You’d be mistaken. People can tell. They just don’t often say.