Monday, December 15, 2008

Angel Anxiety

I participate in a Christmas Angel project, where I purchase presents for children who have an incarcerated parent. It's fun, and meaningful to know I'm doing it on behalf of someone who won't make it to a store this year. At least that's what I think at the moment when I pick up the child's name...

Then comes the shopping. Did I say this was going to be fun? It's horrid. Long lines at the toy stores, long lines at the clothing stores, and the inescapable anxiety that comes from wondering if the kid will even like what I've picked out. I shouldn’t worry so much – they can always exchange it (gift receipts are a brilliant slice of technology) – but I always stress myself out.

I spend hours stalking through store aisles, bypassing perfectly acceptable gifts in favor of something I can’t put my finger on. I convince myself that when the right gift appears, I'll know beyond a shadow of a doubt. Usually it happens eventually – I'm struck by a bolt of certainty, and I feel free to approach the register. Whether it's divine intervention, or sheer exhaustion talking, I will never know.

During the holidays, people always talk about the joy of giving. When I buy for family and friends, I do feel it. Finding the perfect item is thrilling, and it’s truly joyful to watch someone open your present and be excited by what they find. With my Christmas Angels, I don’t get to see that moment of surprise, so the joy is rather diminished for me. Is it selfish to feel that way? Sure. But it’s true. And it also makes me realize that the joy of giving isn’t in “here’s something I bought.” It’s in “here’s something I bought just for you.

I struggle through Christmas Angel every year, because even though it’s un-joyful for me, there’s a chance that my gift will bring joy to someone else. Knowing that fills me with a different kind of happiness, one that is worth all the anxiety.

How do you experience the joy of giving?

No comments:

Disclaimer: Blog entries express the opinions of the respective Bloggers/Contributors/Authors/Commenters solely, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Women's Mosaic. As host and manager of CHICKS ROCK!, TWM acts solely as a provider of access to the internet and not as publisher of the content contained in bloggers' posts and cannot confirm the accuracy or reliability of individual entries. Each participant is solely responsible for the information, analysis and/or recommendations contained in her blog posts.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.