All I Got for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth

Photo © 2009 GenBug CC 2.0 BY NC ND

Actually, the coolest gift I got this Christmas was from my brother, a set of red-wine glasses. No, not red-wine-colored glasses that distort everything you see so that you think you’re drunk. But rather wine goblets, stemware, specifically designed for drinking red wine out of them. It was exactly what I wanted!

I’m not a wine snob. Really. I’m only a wannabe wine snob.

Now, you might not think that it matters what you drink red wine out of. After all a glass is a glass, right? Anything more is just for decoration. But you would be incorrect. You might think that those beautiful white wine glasses that a friend gave me years ago, they’d be just as useful to drink red wine out of. But that wouldn’t be quite right. You might think that the generic cheapo wine glass that I’ve been drinking my red wine out of, the only one left that hasn’t been knocked off the counter and shattered into a million pieces, that I wouldn’t be able to tell one bit of difference whether I used that old glass or one of these new goblets. But if you were to see a good wine poured into this crystal chalice, if you were to inhale as its delicate walls funneled the bouquet toward your longing olfactory organs, if you…

I’m sorry. I forgot where I was going with that.

Oh, yeah. It was just what I wanted.

Not what I needed, but what I wanted.

What I needed–what we all need–is the act of gift giving itself.

I used to say that I didn’t understand why we had to buy gifts. Rather than each give each other a gift worth, say, $25, why didn’t we just give each other the cash? It would be a lot easier, and then everyone could get whatever they wanted, and we could just all get together and spend Christmas day together, which is the important part of the holiday. And I could usually get all the men in the room to agree with me. Inevitably, my Dad would make an exception for greeting cards, because they express a personal sentiment. And I would always agree, because I do agree.

And all of the women in the room would shake their heads, because they just didn’t get it. Or rather, we just didn’t get it.

But this year, I think I get it. As human beings, we each need to give and receive attention. That’s a core human need. And that is why we give gifts on holidays. It’s not about the gift itself, although sometimes they’re really nice and really special. It’s about human contact.

In fact, all us logically-minded who don’t get gift-giving, we do get why it’s important to give attention, and we do seek to fulfill that need in various ways.

Here’s hoping you had a wonderful season of holiday gift-giving with friends and family. And here’s wishing you a happy New Year.