The Meaning of Gifts and Meaning-full Gift Giving

The giving and receiving of gifts is as old as human society.  Gifts are an important part of family and community life in every culture.  The giving and receiving of gifts often has a great deal of emotional symbolism and can be a powerful part of relationships.  This dialogue explores the meaning of gift giving both in your childhood and in your current life.  It is an opportunity to talk about what is important to you in gift giving and any feelings that come up for you around gifting.  You may wish to do a separate dialogue for the different occasions that may be a gift giving opportunities.

Instructions:  Find a quiet time that is good for both of you, and a place to sit and talk where you will not be disturbed.  Take a minute or two before you begin to sit together quietly and remind yourselves of how precious your relationship is.  Take turns completing the following sentences.  The listener should listen quietly (mirroring if you know how) before sharing your own answers,  then gently ask “is there more” until your partner has shared all that they wish to.

When I was a child the way our family handled the giving of presents (on birthdays/anniversaries/at Christmas/on Chanukah/on Valentines Day, Mother’s or Father’s Day, etc.)

What was good about it (or what I liked about it) was

What was difficult or hard about it (if anything)

The best present I remember receiving on _____________  was  __________and what I loved about it was

As I think about it, what I liked about the way my family handled gift giving is

And what I wish we had done differently is

What matters most to me now when we give gifts to each other is

(if you have children) What is important to me in how we handle gifts for our children is

The role I would like the giving of gifts to play in our family at this time of year is

As I think about (holiday) what I am most looking forward to is_____________and what I am feeling is ______________

Thank you for listening.

Please share below your experience with this dialogue, and any thoughts or insights about the giving and receiving of gifts that emerged for you.  Your input is most appreciated.

Posted by Laura

Laura Marshall, LCSW, is the founder and director of the Sagebrush Center for Relationship Therapy. Her experience spans thirty years of supporting couples and individuals to create healthy and meaningful lives and relationships. She is also adjunct faculty for the New Mexico Highlands School of Social Work. She lives with her husband Steve and five sons in Farmington, New Mexico.

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