The other day there was an app advertised on television. It promised to let your significant others know exactly what you wanted for the holidays. It showed full-color pictures, size, cost and even where to get it, both on-line and in-store. No problems. No muss. No fuss. No worries…and most of all no thought. What happened to actually knowing your loved ones well enough to get them exactly what will make them delighted with this year’s presents? Are we so caught up with our digital devises that we don’t share our happiest or deepest desires with each other? No kidding. Do we even know each other? Let’s close down all the apps and really think about this. Doesn’t already knowing what you are going to get take all the fun out of Christmas morning? Think back to your earliest memories of opening those gifts so beautifully wrapped and so easily torn open to your squeals of delight at the amazing surprise you just found inside. Look at that memory a little closer and you will see how thrilled your parents were at your joy. Great, thoughtful and surprising gifts work in both directions. Amazing. Getting ready for Hanukah or Christmas shouldn’t be done in a panic packed orgy of shopping. Who needs that kind of stress? TRULY WONDERFUL GIFTS DON’T HAVE
Shopping for the holidays actually should be going on throughout the year. As we spend time with our family and friends we need to be alert to the signals they send our way. A casual mention of a “bucket list” item, or a lingering look at something in an unusual shop, should be enough to make the list of gifts. It actually takes time to get it right. Here are a couple of examples of surprising and delighting gifts in my life. Years earlier I mentioned to my boyfriend (now husband) that I had read a book in high school that had set me on my career path in marketing and advertising. I forgot about telling him that…but he didn’t. One Christmas there was a small package waiting for me. It was that, by now, out of print book. How he tracked down a copy he wouldn’t say. It couldn’t have been easy. Best of all he had contacted the author who put a personal message to me inside the front cover. What a great gift! Truly surprising and delightful. Not expensive but immensely thoughtful and meaningful. In the last few years I have developed a love for opera. The over-the-top pageantry and extraordinary music have captured me completely. Unfortunately, the truth is, I have never actually seen a live opera performance. In conversation, I mentioned to my dear friend that seeing a live opera was definitely on my to-do list. The conversation moved on to other topics and I forgot about the opera thing. She didn’t. Last year she made sure I saw my first opera. It was everything I had imagined. What a lovely gift…an unforgettable experience. Surprise! I bet you can think of truly amazing surprises that you have received. They didn’t come out of an app or a gift card. They came to you out of someone’s love and thoughtfulness. Those gifts brought as much joy to the giver as they gave you. Truly wonderful gifts don’t have to be expensive or trendy. They only have to be meaningful. It’s that two-way street mentioned earlier. Joy moves in both directions. Personally, I am planning an app-free holiday season. I have actually been shopping all year. No panic driven shopping trips for me. And I can’t wait to see their faces at the surprises I have in store for them. Happy Holidays…

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