A Christmas list, see, is just a collection of things from which the giver can choose one or two items that they know the recipient will like. If they put M&M's on their list, you can be fairly certain they will like whatever kind you get. If they put peanut M&M's, that generally means, they place high value on those but you possibly could get them the peanut butter ones.
I was floored when she said, "Now don't get mad at me, but I got a lot off your list so don't give that to anyone else." Wait...what? You're not supposed to get the entire list. So, we "argued" about that in a good-natured back and forth conversation. The above right are my birthday presents; stickers and another sleep shirt. (It's soooo incredibly soft. I'm sure I sleep better in this than in the scratchy 20 year-old cubs jersey thing I still have.) I didn't care if she sent anything for my birthday. Honestly, her friendship means the world to me. But she wanted to do this and she said something that really struck a chord with me as I wandered the online pages of retailers looking for just "the" gift for someone.
I've had the "You don't have to get me anything" conversation with, I can't tell you how many friends this year. The statement is said with the best of intentions. The giver doesn't have a whole lot of money or time and you don't wish them to feel compelled to provide a gift. There's too much of the 'I want it now' in a consumer society anyway but I seem to have surrounded myself with people who think like I do. I'm good, really I am, and I don't WANT anything but your friendship. Still ...
I thought about the comment Meredith made when I said she didn't have to get me anything. Two days later, I had the same conversation with another friend, only I am the purchaser and he is the recipient. I decided to expand on her idea and here's what I wrote him:
See, we're supposedly friends and because of that, friends sometimes get things for their friends just because they have a friendship. They don't expect reciprocation. They just do it.Friends do things because they are friends. It's a really simple concept, if you think about it. A good friendship goes back and forth like this for the rest of the friends' lives. One year, you're the giver. The next year, you're the recipient. Simple.
Now, I know how this works because I have this thing called a "birthday" upcoming in a few days. I'm going to be 39, again. I have these friends who badgered me for two weeks, TWO WEEKS, to give them a list of things I'd like for my birthday. I kept telling them the same thing you told me. "You really don't need to get me anything. Your friendship is more than enough for me." That didn't fly; did not fly.
Every time I logged onto the game or into FB, there was another letter or message. "I need your list. I need your list." I finally gave in and sent each one a list. Nothing was over $20 unless they got me the deluxe edition of the movies I mentioned. Each list was 85% different. There are some things, like peanut M&M's and sitckers that I'll take in abundance.
Well, I found out, on Monday, that each person had purchased almost everything on the list!!!!!! THAT'S NOT WHAT A LIST IS FOR!!!! You pick a couple items. Nope. They went out and bought almost everything on the list.
I don't feel like I deserve this kindness, but, you know what? They are doing it because they want to. They value my friendship. I can't reciprocate under any terms this year, but they don't care. My friendship and, I guess by extension, me, mean that much to them that they did this for me.
So, I got you something because I saw it and it's totally silly and cheap and you, of all people, will totally get the reason why I'm giving it to you for Christmas. I'm doing this not because you'll send me anything but because we are friends, at least, I hope we are. I know I didn't have to get you anything, but I'm hoping once you get it, it will make you smile and even laugh.
This is what friends do.
I have to admit, these two friends are right. Friends do things because they are friends. Instead of arguing and saying that I don't deserve such kindnesses, my comment should be, "Thank you. I appreciate this more than you know", which is the god's honest truth. I am truly blessed to have friends who care enough to do things. I hope you think of me in the same fashion.
Friends also teach you things you really should have learned long ago. Thanks, Meredith.
Beverage: Rooibos tea