Although Sawyer and I aren’t married, we like to celebrate our mile markers and anniversaries. W have our anniversary coming up in a couple of days, so of course we’ll be swapping a gift or two. As a child, my younger sister and I loved to give gifts, even when there wasn’t a specific occasion. Birthdays and holidays were an extravagant affair. I remember waking up on my birthday one morning to my bedroom floor completely covered in the color spectrums’ array of balloons, with more floating around the ceiling dangling their ribbon tassels. Navigating the pools of balloons and the rainbow-string forest was my favorite gift that year. I believe that must have been where my love of special days has stemmed from.
Giving a gift is a significant act, in my eyes. To me, it means that I had that specific recipient in mind on an average day. I try not to limit myself only to gift-giving on special occasions because it touches the hearts of the recipients to receive a gift because you’ve thought of them. It was not a preplanned occasion. I feel a particular brand of joy when I’m able to give someone a gift. I doubt I’ll ever grow out of loving any and all holidays.
In a tiny apartment, it is as difficult to harbor gifts as to receive gifts (regretfully). Sawyer and I tend to gift each other with practicality in mind rather than choosing a more opulent gift. This allows us to keep our space tidy and nothing is ever misplaced in a pile of stuff or unnecessary due to a more up-to-date or higher-tech model. Everything in Sunrise Spot is as hard-working as we are (with the exception of the cats, of course!).
When friends and family inquire about what to gifts as presents for Christmas or birthdays, both Sawyer and I have little lists of practical items such as gift cards of groceries and unmentionables or a theatre certificate to see a movie or play. The gift of experience is always a wonderful one and much more likely to garner memories than any object we might receive.
As someone who enjoys giving gifts, yes – I’ll admit it – I have a wooden tea box under the heat register in our living room specifically meant for giveaways and gifts. Each item in the box has a label for who it will be given to and for what occasion, if any. Despite my love of a great gift, I do not wrap my gifts in gift wrap as it will (most likely) all make its way to a landfill after all is said and done. I find that recycled newsprint or plain brown paper will suffice; to quote the age-old saying, “it’s the thought that counts”. To allow these gifts and their receptacle to take up precious space in my tiny apartment, I needed to come up with one rigid guideline. I will never keep gifts in the box for over a year – or, to be more clear, past the holidays each year. If I haven’t given the gifts I’ve collected away by December 24th, one can expect a brown-paper gift under their tree the next morning. Nothing in that box stays there past the holidays each year. Adhering to that one rule allows me to continue enjoying the benefits of gifting while keeping my space neat and orderly.
I don’t feel as though I need to expound upon the benefits of generosity in general, however, when you live simply and with purpose, giving a gift means a handful of things. First of all, it is a thank you for being in the givers’ life, as well as allowing both the giver and receiver to celebrate something that they share or remember through a hobby, craft, or other memorabilia. Lastly – and as I said earlier – giving the gift of experience provides new and lasting memories of their own. Sawyer’s mother gave us a pair of tickets to our local movie theater in town that we have been meticulously saving ever since – pinned to the front of our refrigerator with a magnet – for the perfect choice of movie to be shown there. After three months, we both decided we’d love to see Woody Allen’s new movie, Cafe Society, when it’s released on July 15th.
Before my journey toward a simpler life had started, I saved all of my venue tickets. Any tickets I had used to get into movies, concerts, plays, or other entertainment, I kept in a plastic baggie as though they might be useful again one day. Once Sawyer and I moved in together and I started to change my habits, however, I recycled my collection. My journey has taught me that if an experience isn’t memorable simply my recall, it isn’t worth keeping a collection of items taking up precious space in my home. Gifts are the same way; I try to come up with practical, hard-working, or memorable gifts – they are a thoughtful way to keep your loved ones in mind and gift them something useful.
The bare bones of gifting, in my opinion, is allowing time to think about the recipient and their needs. Each person is different, finding different objects as more necessary or hard-working than others, so spending the time ruminating rather than making a snap or impulse purchase just to get the process over with is important to providing the most useful gift.
I approach gifting the same way I approach my own purchases – if the object I’m looking at isn’t the most perfect version (locally made/handcrafted, responsibly sourced, beautiful), it’s worth waiting to buy the best. This ensures the quality of a gift is just as good as something I would buy for myself and that a lower-quality gift isn’t taking up space in my own space or someone else’s. I have chosen to give without the expectation of receiving anything in return. I try to leave my little slice of the world I inhabit just a little bit better than it was when I arrived. To accomplish part of this, I need to nurture my relationships with friends and family.
I couldn’t be more excited to spend my morning with Sawyer on our anniversary. Although we’ll both be working that day and won’t get to spend much time together, sharing our morning ritual and swapping gifts as well as a simple dinner after work will be wonderful and refreshing events.