*I’m not the most experienced person at gift-giving during Chrismastime. Each year I’ve been able to count on one hand the number of people I shop for.

And if it weren’t for the fact that the concept of gift-giving started with the Bible – and I like to receive gifts – I probably wouldn’t bother participating.

But if I use my gas, time and money to purchase a gift for someone I expect them to like it and use it. Some people, on the other hand, don’t care whether the gift they give is used, ignored or re-gifted. And that leads me to the question:

Are the gifts we exchange more for the pleasure of the person who gives or the one who receives? If you’re a student of Stephen Covey, the win-win principle seems most suitable and mutually beneficial. But when I tried to follow the win-win concept of gift-giving I was left unfullfilled.

Case in point: A co-worker who was without a car depended on me to take her to and from work, as well as other places around town. Our commute was short and she lived close enough so as not to be that much of a burden. But when she said she planned to get a bicycle for exercise and perhaps to ride back and forth to work, I decided to get the bike for her as a gift. Since she had planned to get it for herself I didn’t think it was too suggestive of me to get it for her instead.

But ever since I gave her the bike more than a year ago she has used it only a handful of times. Then she parked it against the wall in her house and hasn’t touched it. When I asked her about it she said it needs air in the tires. Why she hasn’t put air in the tires or done whatever mundane maintenance that’s needed is a mystery to me. But had I known the bike was going to become a dusty clothes rack on flat tires I would not have spent my hard earned money buying it from the Salvation Army Thrift store. So what, I got it at a discount! That’s beside the point.

The bike, mind you, was something she said she wanted so much she had intended to buy it for herself. So I thought it was a win-win purchase; something she would appreciate and use on a regular basis so I wouldn’t have to chauffeur her around. That has not been the case. Now I find myself slightly resentful.

Whenever someone goes out of her way to get a gift for me I show my appreciation by using it as much as possible, especially when the giver is there to witness my apprecition. If it’s clothes, I wear it; if it’s a household item, I display it; and if it’s a bicycle, I definitely would ride it; take pictures of me on it if I could.

But everybody’s not like me. Sometimes I think nobody is like me. I would rather give a person cash to spend any way they please than to give them a gift they don’t use. But I’m told giving cash is thoughtless and lacks sentiment. I guess thoughtlessness, just like beauty, is subjective.

Whatever gifts you give or receive this Christmas, remember it’s the thought that counts. If somebody thought enough of you, used their gas and time, went through the hassle of finding a parking space at the mall or the thrift store and bought you a gift, show some appreciation and use it. Merry Christmas!

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Send questions, comments or requests for speaking engagements to Steffanie at [email protected]. And see the video version of her journal at youtube.com/steffanierivers.