You're probably looking at that fine bottle of Mountain Maid Vanilla Concentrate that my husband bought me back from Haiti this summer and thinking, "Uh, surely that's not the perfect gift?"
And you're right. Partly.
It may not be the perfect gift for you, but it certainly was for me.
As I've pondered the fine art of gift-giving these last couple of weeks leading up to Christmas, I've considered my own gift-receiving experience.
The last gift that I was given that I consider to be the "perfect" gift was this bottle of Mountain Maid Vanilla Concentrate given to me by my husband on his return from a mission trip to Haiti. Looking at the bottle, it's really nothing fancy. In fact, the vanilla came in a re-purposed water bottle with a new label slapped on front. Don't get me wrong, the vanilla is absolutely wonderful and unique to the Haiti area. But that's not what made this gift special.
Let's face it, Kevin could have brought me a beautiful hand-crafted sword from Haiti that was worth much more in monetary value.
But it wouldn't have been the perfect gift. For me.
What made this gift special was that it wasn't something I specifically asked for, but something that came as a result of Kevin taking special notice of the things that interest me.
Kevin had noticed that I had been spending a little more time in the kitchen trying out new recipes. He paid attention. He knew enough about me that he picked out a gift that I would truly enjoy. And that's what made the vanilla my "perfect" gift.
Even a very inexpensive gift can be the perfect and most memorable gift when the giver takes the necessary time to carefully consider the recipient.
Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself before finishing up your holiday shopping this year:
1. What does this person truly need? Is it my money or my time?
Gifts of time can be some of the most appreciated and valued gifts.
2. Is there something special that I'm gifted at that will bless this person? Do I write poetry or songs? Cook? Draw? Craft?
Even if the person could buy something similar, it wouldn't have that special touch that you can bring.
3. Is there something that this person would like but wouldn't buy for themselves?
Sometimes little indulgences may seem too impractical for someone to spend money on for themselves. These special treats make great gifts.
4. What does this person value?
Giving a gift that reflects a person's interests is a great way to show that "you noticed." (example: my "perfect" vanilla extract)
From personal experience, I know that I can get caught up in materialism at Christmastime. My prayer is that I place more thought into the person I'm buying for rather than on the price of their gift.
How about you?