Many Christmases ago, I remember wishing for a jewellery set - it came with matching necklaces and bracelets made of shiny plastic. I have no idea why I wanted it so much but I remember praying hard for my parents to give it to me. That Christmas, I was a happy kid indeed.
I no longer have that jewellery set today. The memories of playing with it have also faded away. I still enjoy receiving presents but my focus is no longer on the gift but the giver, and I count my Christmases by the presence/absence of those I love. One year saw an empty seat at the dinner table when my brother was away on holiday; another, was marked by a renewed sense of hope when I saw my family coming together after a trial. One year was filled with the joy of young love; another, the pain that came from break-up and broken friendships. Looking back, these Christmas experiences remind me to value relationships instead of physical things.
So as the malls get decked with decorations and discounts, I have to make a conscious effort to focus on what's most important in my life because the season of giving can so easily become a season of expectations. To put things into context, this will be the first Christmas with my boyfriend and his loved ones. With it comes the possibility of getting entangled in a web of social norms and pressures: what should I be giving? what should I be receiving? For a while, I felt pressured to give something elaborate and expensive until I realised that the people I love didn’t expect this of me.
This year, I’m remembering that it’s not what I give but who I want to give to. And when I receive, I know someone values their relationship with me.
Who do you want to be present with this Christmas?
If you’re still deciding what presents to give to your loved ones, be present instead and make meaningful conversations with Smol Tok.