Monday, December 19, 2011

Giving and Receiving, and Santa Claus

With less than one week to go until Christmas, it's time to talk about giving and receiving.  Usually I use this space to discuss points of view that the people managing a product or service may need to reconsider.  This time I'm going to talk about something that many people should reconsider, and it has nothing to do with the particular benefits of the offering involved.

It may seem cliche, but Christmas is about love and friendship.  It has little to do with receiving and much to do with giving.  Because this is now beginning to sound very boring and predictable, I'm going to now connect these ideas in a way I haven't seen from others.

We provide gifts to each other as a traditional part of the season.  If you're Christian, you may have heard the story of the three wise men, aka the three kings.  The gifts they brought to Jesus on the night he was born were a small example of how much they love God.  Santa Claus provides gifts (arguably) to remind us of the wisdom of these three kings, as one small way they show Jesus their love for God. 

Santa Claus's nice list has little to do whether you pick on your little brother or sister and everything to do with love.  He'll probably overlook minor infractions as long as you demonstrate through your behavior that you love and respect others.  A disregard or hatred of others is the most common reason for getting on the naughty list.

So that's the friendship bit, now giving vs receiving.  Though it of course feels great to be loved and to receive something we've always wanted, the love we show others is more important.  To give is to provide a small demonstration of that love.  It's to provide a physical or monetary manifestation that someone else matters in your life.  Indeed, there are many ways to demonstrate that love besides gifts.

For me, there's no greater gift than to see my gift to them being appreciated.  If I receive no gifts will I feel any less loved?  Will I feel left out?  Not at all.  It's not about me, it's about everyone else.  Though I won't deny that I wish I had an iPad or Android tablet, the greatest gift is seeing my family being happy (heck; the tablet would be a gift for the whole family anyway!). 

So what do I want for Christmas?  Send me thank you cards for what I've given to you.  Those cards are the best gifts in the world.