Presents Suck, Families Rule.

Christmas, 2007
yes, my dad is an Episcopalian priest.

yes, we are flashing gang signs for our Christmas photo. thats how we do.

I made my sisters and mom jewelry for Christmas, and I got my sisters some cute little handmade/make it yourself items from a really great craft fair in Seattle. But I feel worthless in the gift giving department. It never feels like enough. Not because I want to prove anything to them in the form of material things, but because I just know that nothing I make will be able to express how much I love them.
The pressure of gift giving is unbearable for me. I care about my family so much. And I care about my friends so much. I care about people I don't even know so much. And I want to shower love and beauty down on everyone. I like symbolism, and I like that there are objects in the world that can be little reminders of a persons love for another. But I can't afford a million objects. I can't even afford a few objects. And trying to place deep symbolism in an object is really stressful and overwhelming for me. Trying to find deep meaning in an object that is equal to the love i have for someone else is so anxiety evoking. I try to hand made items for my mom dad and sisters, but every idea I come up with feels like not enough. All the ideas feel just plain stupid. No idea I come up with will match what I feel. Symbolic gifts never live up to that which they are trying to symbolize.

I like being able to give practical gifts, and I love getting practical gifts. You recognize a need in someone else that can be fulfilled through obtaining something like... a spatula, an external harddrive, a whatever gadget blablabla. Practical gifts are not anything beyond "hey, you need a spatula so you can mix stuff so you can make food so you can eat. you need to eat. and a spatula would help you get there. heres a spatula." Its not trying to prove anything. Its just practical, straight forward. I like that. Its not lofty. It just is... a spatula. the end.
The only problem with practical gifts are that I don't think you particularly need many "things" to live. Some people need a lot of stuff for their job or whatever, and some people need no "things" for their job or to sustain themselves. My parents are not wealthy, but they basically have what they need. Their jobs are relationally based so there are no physical tools they need. And my mom's favorite thing is sleeping and my dad is really active and has all he needs for hiking, exercising and squash playing, so those needs are already met. Shes got pillows and blankets, he's got hiking boots and a squash racket. As much as I obsess over thinking about it, I can't come up with any practical gifts for them. They got the goods they need.

I went to Ben Franklin today to buy candle making stuff and I got so stressed out the longer I looked at the supplies. Cool. Candles. I can't afford the fancy shit so I could just maybe make super simple candles. But a candle, really? How does a candle benefit my family's combined set of lives? Yea, I could make it and maybe the value of the object would be found within the effort I made to create it. But I don't feel like thats good enough at all. Really now, a few hours max to make a candle? How is that time investment anything close to what my family deserves.
The value isn't even in the fact that I thought about it or that it's handmade when it comes to giving to my family. It would never ever be good enough in my eyes.

I have nothing to give to my parents physically.
But with all my heart I have SO much to give in gratitude, respect, honor, thankfulness, admiration, and love. If someone were to diss my family on Christmas, I could so quickly and efficiently gift the gift of defense of who they are and what they represent. If my family were hurt in anyway on Christmas, I could so passionately gift the gift of care and provision in every way possible. If someone told me one of my family members was going to die, and if I had the choice to die so that they could live, I would immediately do it. If I could give my life as a gift to my family, it is done. I love them so much, and not even my life could be enough to express how much I adore them.

I have no money.
My efforts are not enough.
My words are not enough.
All that I am is not enough.
I don't know what I can give my parents for Christmas, other than a giant buzzing universe sized abstract idea of what it is for me to love them. Mom and Dad, sisters, I love you with all I am. It breaks my heart and pushes me to tears knowing that I will never be able to express all that I feel for you. Just typing that made me cry. Just know that if i had the chance to eliminate any form of suffering from your life, even if it meant that my life in itself would disappear before it even began, I would do it. Who would I be without the goodness that is within you.

To my family: presents suck. and I suck at finding anything that is worthy of who you are. Nothing will ever live up to what you deserve. Nothing but the abstract concept of the truest form of love. By Gods grace, you are what you are. And every moment I am awake, I thank Him for that. I love you, I adore you, and I wish I had more to give. I only hope that throughout the rest of my life, there will be points along the journey where I can provide you with whatever it is you need. I love you. Merry Christmas. I thank God you have the greatest gifts of understanding what it is to pursue love with purest compassion, and the humility to accept the greatest love that you will never fully understand.

Presents suck. Family rules.


Anne Elysabethe Barkett said...

I would REALLY REALLY REALLY like to talk about this post with you when I return. I know how you feel (not exactly because we are individuals with unique experiences), but I know a little of what you are feeling. Let's talk, love!

Ian Gill said...

I made all my presents this year, except for my cousins which I did the elaborate wrapping of the gift cards. I'm pretty sure my cousins enjoy the unwrapping of the gift more then the do the actual gift. I mean it probably took them a few hours of work just to get a $15 itunes gift card. Its actually a gift for the whole family because they put on a pretty good show trying to figure out how to unwrap it.

You are away from your family for so much out of the year that I think the best thing you can give is presence instead of presents. You should just wrap yourself and sit under the tree before anyone wakes up in the morning.

JD said...

I took that.

Kyla Roma said...

You express yourself so beautifully, I can imagine that whatever you give this time of year, your love for your friends and family must just envelope them.

If the things you give can't express how you feel you're lucky to have such beautiful words that can step in for them- and in the end it's the words your family will remember. <3