Perception of Gifts

One of the biggest struggles when it comes to birthdays, Christmas, or any other gift-giving event is the reaction of the recipient. Obviously, everyone has different responses to opening gifts. One does not want to act upset to discredit the kindness of the person giving the gift, and one also does not want to downplay the gift for fear of seeming unappreciative. The bottom line is that one can tell a lot about a person’s personality by the way he or she receives gifts.
Consider young children on Christmas morning: they wake up at an early hour and race to the bottom of the Christmas tree in anticipation to tear open the gifts Santa brought them. From the first present, the child’s face masks nothing. If he loves the gift, a cheeky smile forms on his face, and his eyes light up; however, if the gift is unwanted, the child is unlikely to hide the disappointment. Another indication is how much time the child plays with the gift before moving onto the next gift to unwrap. It is very simple to read the joy or disappointment of children by their reactions to gifts. Undeniably, children will not be attracted to a gift of clothes or books as much as they will be to a toy truck, legos, or a doll. This in turn also shows the age and maturity of the person.
While it can be easily determined whether or not children like the presents they are given, as a person ages, it becomes more difficult to tell if an adult likes a gift that they are given. A person’s personality starts to shine through in the manner in which an adult receives a gift. Some people do have big reactions to gifts, but others do not. Take my dad as an example. He is very unemotional when opening a gift. It is not that my dad does not appreciate or like the gift; his personality is just more reserved and self-contained; therefore, he does not like to bring attention to himself when receiving gifts. On the other hand, people with outgoing and extroverted personalities may have the opposite response. They will react with noticeable excitement and happiness to a present, even if they do not like the present itself. If such a person is given a “bad” gift, perhaps they will try to mask their disappointment, showing the same reaction regardless of how they genuinely feel about the gift.
In this way, presents can also reveal a person’s kindness. I think it is fair to say everyone, at one time or another, has received a gift they did not particularly care for. The reaction to that gift is telling. The “Avocado Kid” is a good example of this. He was given an avocado as a gift (which most kids might be unhappy about), yet he responded with “It’s an avocado, thanks!” Unless he really likes avocados (unlikely), I think it is safe to say he was just being polite about the undesirable gift. Of course, the reverse can also be true: my 98-year-old great-grandmother never hides her true reaction. If she receives a present she does not like, she takes it straight to her bedroom and shoves it under her bed. If she likes a gift, she puts it to immediate use. While some people may find this unkind, my family finds humor in it: “You always know if Grandma likes her gift or not!”
Gift-giving can be tricky, but the receiving of gifts can be equally challenging. Personality is revealed in the choices one makes when opening a present, so the next time a present is placed in your hands, you may do well to remember that your reaction is being watched, and it is about to reveal something significant about your character.