The past couple days, I’ve written about gifts between me and my friends. I developed a relatively new friendship this year, and while I considered giving her a gift, some of the conversations we had leading up to the holidays changed my mind.
She talked about the obligation of gifts, sharing a few stories of relatives who would give her kids gifts and wondering if she was obligated to give something in return even if she didn’t know them well or have extra money to spend. We talked about the reasons behind giving gifts, the unnecessary guilt that sometimes accompanies gifts, and the decisions to determine what gifts are appreciated.
I had bought her a little something, and I did not expect anything in return, but not wanting to put any pressure on her, I decided not to give it to her.
But she showed up with a gift for me. A beautiful gift for me. And it meant something because of our conversations about her struggles with gift-giving. Of course, I laughed as I told her my struggle over her gift—and excitement that I could now give it to her. She laughed, too.
She knew I didn’t expect a gift. I knew she didn’t expect a gift. But we enjoyed the gift-giving process. We also talked about how we weren’t setting a precedent that necessitates a gift every year.
It’s great to develop friendships that are honest enough to talk about those things without awkwardness. We can listen and respect each other and laugh along the way. We can ease the pressure instead of add to it. We can be different but agree on some things.
The heart of the gift of friendship is more important to anything wrapped in a pretty package.