The Ritual of Gifts

“Now I understand why people dance at weddings!”

I danced more than I had in years and Mark joined in once or twice – but enough to issue that statement.  We were dancing at our son’s wedding last August and it was one of the happiest days we had ever experienced.  Mark was sharing his insight that dancing at weddings is a sign of celebration, a means for humans to express happiness.  As he talked I had images of other civilizations, both ancient and foreign, and of their celebrations expressed through dance.  I was glad to be a part of this ritual.

Recently we attended a funeral for  a family friend.  Funerals in our Faith respect the sorrow we are experiencing, but the focus is on family, faith, hope, memories, our Savior, and even the Plan of Happiness.  We saw many friends that we had not seen for years.  We laughed and cried with the speakers.  We rejoiced in the life of this good man. We also had insight into why we have funerals.  They are an opportunity to join together as we share feelings and honor our departed friends.  I was glad to be a part of this ritual.

It is December.  Christmas has come and gone but we are still in a holiday spirit.  This particular Christmas seemed so beautiful to me and the Christ Child video helped me to focus on my Savior more than I have at any other time.  It has been absolutely beautiful to me.  Truly I have experienced and celebrated the “true meaning of Christmas.”  Too often this phrase seems to act as a guilt trip to anyone who wants to give or receive gifts at Christmastime.  This year I felt that I had some fresh insight into gift giving.  I saw it as a precious ritual that we can use at Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, or any time that we want to celebrate an event, an individual or even a feeling.  I loved watching my children used their hard-earned money to buy gifts for each of their siblings.  They put so much thought into it – what joy they find in the giving!  And I think it is fun to watch the receiving as well.  I am touched at the gifts I receive from each of them, from Mark, from our extended family, from neighbors – we received so many gifts on our porch this year.  Sometimes we didn’t even recognize the names of the givers – but it feels so good to be remembered.

And so…. I now see gift-giving as a ritual humans use to celebrate and express any number of positive emotions.  I love giving gifts, but now I plan to do so without any guilt of being materialistic (or any other label that negative people like to tack on to otherwise happy experiences).  Christmas is a wonderful time and I will use gifts as an element of my celebration and I will be glad to be a part of this ritual.

On the other hand I will not give in to the notion that retailers/society now have that gift-giving has to be a part of every major holiday.  However, I can improve my behavior and try to not roll my eyes when others choose to participate.


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