Receiving meaningful gifts/ Sentimental gifts


Receiving meaningful gifts

by Jacky Shum

Christmas is a festive time when many people give gifts to their friends and family, and while I absolutely love giving gifts to others, I have trouble accepting them.

The practice of gift exchange creates a moment of connection between the giver and the recipient. While gift givers may find it difficult to search for the perfect gift, they are nonetheless in control of the situation.

On the other hand, as gift-receivers, an unexpected gift may create a sense of awkwardness and vulnerability. Likewise, receiving gifts from friends and family members has always been a challenge for me. One may question how this presents any sort of challenge, but to me, there are certain factors I take into consideration when accepting gifts.

Growing up, I always felt uncomfortable when receiving gifts. Every year at my church, gifts are exchanged randomly between my peers during “Secret-Santa,”and each year, I worry that my expressions of joy and gratitude will not be enough to show my appreciation.

My anxiety upon receiving gifts would be further intensified if I also knew how much time and thought was put into selecting the gift.

Taking part in the annual “Secret-Santa,” one year, my friend decided to purchase me an especially expensive jacket, above the set price limit we had for our group of participants. At the time, before the event, I had previously expressed my desire for a new jacket, and upon receiving her gift I was so shocked that I did not know how to react properly. Feeling ashamed that I was unable to show her my appreciation for such a thoughtful gift, I quickly apologized after I had regained my composure. Afterwards, I had even felt a sense of guilt since I was unable to reciprocate with an equal amount of thoughtfulness in my my selection for my recipient..

Despite my troubles accepting the gift, it remains as a symbol of our friendship with greater significance due to her thoughtfulness. Through my past experience, I have come to see gift-receiving as a sort of recurring test of friendship. In order to prevent the same catastrophe from happening, I find it easier to accept a gift by bracing myself through mental preparation when I am about to receive a gift.


Sentimental gifts

by Crystal Huang

Whenever the month of December approaches, my thoughts are constantly focused on giving gifts and wondering what would be the perfect present.

When I was in elementary school, I assumed gifts were just material items that people gave each other because a holiday or event required it. On my birthday, I always expected gifts from my loved ones because I thought it determined the level of affection they had for me.

However, as I have grown older, I have become aware of exactly why gifts are given in the first place, and the opportunities gift giving opens for the giver and the recipient. According to, gift giving releases a series of hormones called the “Happiness Trifecta”: serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.

Serotonin is connected to sleep, digestion, memory, learning and appetite. Dopamine is connected to motivation. Oxytocin is “the cuddle hormone” causing blood pressure to decrease, social fears to reduce and trust and empathy to be enhanced.

During my freshman year near Christmas, I constantly pondered what would be the ultimate present for a friend of mine. Our parents were friends, and we had known each other since we were children, so I wanted my gift to her to hold much significance and display the appreciation we had for each other. We had always been extremely close to each other, as conversations were left with the feeling of excitement for when we would see each other next.

I was looking online at the Disney store website, since we both loved Disney, because it conveyed the emotion of merriment and exemplified true magic through such emotions. After a couple seconds on the website, I saw an interesting stuffed animal, a Disney Tsum Tsum. As soon as I laid my eyes on one, I thought they were the most adorable stuffed animals I had ever seen.

After minutes of gazing at the toy, I declared to myself that I was going to buy a Tsum Tsum for my friend. The challenge now was deciding which one to choose from the range of characters the store offered. After about half an hour, I decided the perfect way to symbolize our relationship was through the Winnie Pooh and Piglet Tsum Tsums. The two were viewed as the best of friends who always stuck with each other, on adventures and through thick and thin, which I thought represented our relationship perfectly.

I realize now that even though I may develop headaches when thinking of the ideal gift for someone, the gift is only really ideal when it is meaningful. Gifts make people happy because they symbolize thoughtfulness and show the effort and time invested into the relationship between the giver and receiver.

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