Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Empathy and the Perfect Gift


I like to think I’m the Queen of Empathy. I like to think I’m so good at it that I can intuitively know what people are thinking without language. With only a blush, a flush, a frown, or a wave.

And I personify everything, whether animate or inanimate.

In my house conversation is endless from morning to night. I converse with my pets, my plants, even my clothing, bedding, and hardware. I worry about the comfort and care of everything.

I am annoyed with Hub when he drives Car without kind consideration. I make sure Dishwasher is happy and that there is lots of hot water before I do dishes. When I polish a table, I am happy because Table is happy. I talk kindly to my plants and plead with Computer. I have assigned personalities to everything and I keep those distinctive personalities in mind. So that everyone, and everything, will be happy.

And likewise I link my feelings to the feelings of others. When I see human discomfort, I weep. When I see neglect, I’m heartbroken. When I see injustice, I’m truly dismayed.

So am I not the Queen of Empathy? I think I am. In fact I’m quite certain I am. That is, until Christmas comes….

And so you would think the Queen of Empathy could crawl into everybody’s head. And with all that empathetic knowing, so perfectly aligned with the motives, situations, emotional sensitivities, and physical needs of others, I would be able to easily decide on the perfect gift to buy for each and every one. But not so.

Every gift is a problem. A big, big problem. I guess I could ask friends what they want but that so ruins the surprise.

So I get discouraged at Christmas time. I can’t help feeling quite crushed. My inability to choose appropriate gifts is frustrating, but more so is my insecurity about how genuinely I care about others. Maybe I don’t even understand Empathy. Maybe what I feel is nothing more than a game I play that I don’t fully understand.

How can I be sure?

6 comments:

Pauline said...

The fact that others may not be happy with a gift you give reflects on THEM, not you! When people can receive as graciously as they give, then gift giving is truly reciprocal. Don't despair - rejoice that you care enough to give. Leave the appreciation where it belongs - in the hands of the receiver.

As for talking with everything animate or inanimate, I knew there was a reason you and I resonate :)

Roberta S said...

Hi pauline. I can't in all fairness say that anyone I give gifts to does not appreciate them. Guess the real problem is dreamer that I am, I just wish I could give more -- a new Hummer, a wee happy little Bobcat, an exotic vacation, or a summer cabin.

On your other topic, I'm so glad you stopped by. It's comforting to know that I am not the only one chatting to inanimate objects and quite enjoying the 'exchange of ideas'. :)

Matty said...

Aw Roberta...you know I'm not that difficult to please...a gift certificate for my favorite bookstore is gift enough!
Seriously...I just don't buy gifts for anybody at christmas anymore except for the 2 grandkids...and of course my mom who is 86...no choice..finances dictate & I have to listen...but I do get to buy for friends, family, etc on their Special day...their birthday.
For some it's a gift certificate at a book store or music store...for those who knit or crochet...the same...everybody loves gift certificate's.
For my father-in-law who loves jigsaw puzzles at his age (76)took a family photo (12 people) and had it made into a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle last year...he was THRILLED! AND he framed it!
People love things with their name's on it..whether it's a cup or t-shirt.
Last year I gave my friend of 30 years a Silver double framed pic of her 2 dogs...Bonnie & Tyler with their names engraved. She loved it and has it on her mantle.
People who love animals love anything with their pets name's engraved on it..bowls, cushions, mats.
My grandchildren and I bake xmas cookies for the nurse's and the senior's at the center...and also for the mentally handicapped groups for xmas parties,social gatherings.. etc.
Granddaughter and I are currently working on mini-photo albums..2 bucks each at walmart...for a few special friends of hers...their birthdays fall around xmas...we have copied pics of her friends when they were here for Halloween..pool parties, summer days...sleep-over's (.17 cents a copy) and I'm positive they will feel so special to have a book of memories to keep.
It's not expensive just time-consuming and they are worth it!
When I'm broke (as usual) ...I sit down and write a letter to that special birthday person...and tell them exactly what they mean to me...How they have strengthened me & guided me...how I look up to them...and what makes them special..how they have added to my life...and the many reasons I love them...and........then I hit them for money...it works everytime!

Just kidding!
Gifts don't have to be expensive..as long as they come from the heart. Now if I could bake bread.....but haven't mastered that skill yet. That's a great gift...a loaf of bread and a jar of home-made jam!

Roberta S said...

Interesting thoughts, matty. Very cheery. And yes, there is jam making going on here -- yesterday it was homemade orange-pineapple marmalade. Later this week it will be rhubarb and razz.

Incidentally, 4 year old grandson is easiest to please of all -- as much as he loves trucks, and cars, and wrenches, best of all he loves a big can of homemade cookies. Last time I gave him one of those, he took that to mean they were all his and no need to share. He didn't understand that they only stay fresh for about 8 to 10 days. All he understood is he'd have to hide them real good to avoid any cookie sneaks. He hid his can in a small compartment in the kitchen and thankfully discovered them before they were stale. His mom didn't know if he was happier when he got them the first time or when he found them a few days later.

CodeNameNora said...

I haven't thought of naming my things, but good idea. I do talk to myself. Once I read an article that discussed this odd habit. I then debated the pros and cons of it with myself, aloud of course. I forget what got the last word.

Roberta S said...

Hi codenamenora. So pleased you stopped in. I think I name things because its an exercise that often makes a relatively dull day a little more humorous.

I also want you to know that I popped over to visit your cyber twin-friend, Nora. She is fascinating and so I've added another Blog to my reading list. Please let her know that I plan to continue visiting.