Jordan Ogren

December 24, 2021

Why do we give gifts?

What is the purpose of giving gifts?

Why do we give gifts on Christmas?

While I've never questioned gift-giving before, something within me inquired why this year. I still bought a crap ton of gifts that may or may not get used.

But I thought it was interesting that I've never truly questioned this practice. So, here I am with you, questioning this basic habit (maybe you don't celebrate Christmas. Think about birthdays then).

I can think of a few quick reasons why we purchase gifts in general:
  • To show someone we care for and love them
  • To show someone we thought of them
  • To put a smile on the face of someone we love
  • To remind them that they are valued and seen
  • In sum: To give love to another human in the form of a gift

Those are good reasons. But—as you could have guessed—I think there are reasons that we purchase gifts that aren't so noble.

Some of those non-noble reasons we gift are:
  • To show people we have a big piggy bank
  • To create a feeling of dependence or needing to gift us back
  • To show them our love because we never give them our time
  • In sum: To secure something we want (admiration, sex, status, love)

Hmm… Do you see the similarities?

I do. And I think that's the strange thing about gift-giving. In practice, it can be a wonderful thing.

But it all comes down to intention.

Buying dinner for a woman you recently met is noble.
Buying dinner for a woman you recently met in hopes of sex isn't noble. 

Same action. Different intentions.

Here's a less subtle example:

Buying your son a new car for his 16th birthday to show you love him.
Buying your son a new car for his 16th birthday to show you love him because you missed every cross country race of his season due to work.

The bizarre thing is: you may be unaware of the reason. The ill intention may be entirely subconscious for you. 

It's only recognized in retrospect or through outside observance.

All in all, I found the answer to my opening question. But, unfortunately, the answer is not found in the gift or the time of giving (Christmas, graduation, or a dinner out).

It's found in the intention.

Whether it's a subconscious or conscious intention, we give gifts to acquire something.

Good giving is to give love or goodwill to another person.
Bad giving is to acquire love or goodwill from another person.

(Note: this idea is underdeveloped, and I would love to hear your thoughts).

So, when it's time for you to give a gift, check yourself. What is your intention?

Not the surface-level intention. But the root (real) intention.

Change the intention, and you change everything.

If you're celebrating Christmas, have a Merry Christmas!

If you're not, have a peace-filled Friday and weekend!

I'll talk to you on Monday 🙏🏼

🧠 + ❤️ // JO