There is a very moving story of an old gentleman telling his young neighbor that the most precious thing he had was in a wooden box he kept in his study. He never said what was in the box, and then when the man died, it arrived at what was now the young man’s postal address. Upon opening it, he discovered that the box contained his elder friend’s pocket watch along with a card explaining how much it had meant to spend time together.
Everyone who opens a holiday gift hopes it will be something they like, and, deep down, everyone wants to have the gift make them feel a little more special and warmly loved. They also want to feel delighted, and no one enjoys those moments of disappointment shielded by the need to pretend to like something.
So why not give gifts of time? Wrapping up time for holiday giving can begin with a well-chosen wrist or pocket watch, or a clock. This must suit the recipient, and this holiday giving is helped by the wide variety of choices available. Look for electronics, such as mp3 docking stations or digital frames that have clocks in them, to wrap up time for technology lovers. Look for classic time pieces for traditionalists, or choose a character piece that connects with someone’s interests or personality. But this part of the holiday gift is a symbol of more to come.
The important part of wrapping up time for holiday giving is the message that will be attached to this symbol. This message will explain how it is that you are planning to set aside time to be with your recipient – time when you will only belong to them.
Here are three possibilities. The first possibility for wrapping up time for holiday giving is a message about a mystery or adventure trip. In this message, you will specify an amount of time – an evening, a day, a weekend – that must be scheduled in the coming year. And you will provide only clues about how this time is going to be spent. So include some other wrapped presents that represent these clues. If you are going on an outdoor adventure, wrap a compass and a water bottle, for instance. If you will travel by bus or plane, wrap a small toy vehicle. Seashells can represent the beach, and generic tickets can represent concerts, sports games, movies or shows.
Be careful: do not give the mystery away – your job with these small gifts is to fascinate your recipient without revealing where you are going. Arrange the date, and promise to collect them at the agreed upon time. Also promise to provide a list of what they will need for the outing.
Another way of wrapping up time for holiday giving is to attach a representation of yourself to the gift of the timepiece. This time your message is to promise a certain amount of time when your recipient can have you entirely to him or herself for a certain block or blocks of time – perhaps a weekend, or three evenings in the coming year. You can convey this message by including a framed picture of yourself with your recipient, or a symbol of yourself they associate with you – such as a baseball cap or a keychain with the logo of your car. The message is that your time belongs to them and they get to choose how to spend it – provide a budget cap if you think that is necessary, but be careful not to erase the idea that your recipient means a lot to you and you are dedicating time to be together.
The third possibility is to give the watch or clock along with the gift of how you will spend time together. If wrapping up time for holiday giving means setting aside time for helping with chores or home repairs, give paint brushes and roller pans or a home improvement gift certificate. If it means a foot massage, provide the massage oil. And if it means season tickets to the college hockey home games, going on a whale watch together, or spending time at the art museum, the gift should be the tickets or museum memberships – yours as well as your recipient’s.
You see the picture: all gifts are really symbols of how much you do or do not care. In Dickens’ story “A Christmas Carol,” the spirits of past, present and future change Ebenezer Scrooge’s entire life. Wrapping up time for holiday gift giving is about making Scrooge’s promise to your recipient: “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”