The gift behind the gift

By Angie Liang

Instead of gaming consoles, iPods or new DVDs for Christmas, I wanted something a little different. Upon my request, my mom bought me a pair of tights that cost, well, probably too much. Keep in mind that these are fashion industry standard, polar Wolford tights. As warm as pants, they are perfect for cold temperatures and even snowy weather. Yet, no matter how I try to justify these tights, most people would never understand buying them.

I know, because I thought the same thing a month earlier. A good friend was buying cold weather, business-appropriate accessories with her parents at a high-end department store. To me it seemed ridiculous to make such a fuss over belts and Ugg boots. But while those may not have been my choice picks, I am just as guilty of overspending on items that I consider necessities and others consider trivial.

So why would our parents, who have preached about the value of hard-earned money, even consider buying us such expensive items? Because they love us and believe in us. At the risk of sounding materialistic, the truth is, our society tends to attach beliefs to purchases. Some people buy hope, others buy dreams. We associate these values with certain objects and brands, and they become part of how we communicate our feelings, whether affection, appreciation, or anything else. (The rest should come from the heart, of course.) When you buy an engagement ring for your girlfriend, or a car for your 16-year-old, or a computer for the college-bound son, you are expressing your hopes for their success.

With the end of the holiday season, it’s important to remember that the value of the gifts we gave and received has nothing to do with their price tags. Whether they cost a fortune or a penny, it’s the thought and meaning from our family and friends that really counts.

For my friend, who is attending a prestigious law school in the Northeast, her parents see these purchases as aids for law firm interviews and the impending winter. As for myself, my parents believe that the impression I make on people (like my summer employer who I returned to work for over Winter Break) is worth a pair of tights. Our parents have confidence that we can make our futures happen, and they want to express that as much as they can. I am grateful that they see our success in sight.

So my tights may have cost more than most, and they may seem like a strange present in comparison to what most people want for the holidays, but my mom and I are okay with that. We know it’s not really about the tights. It’s about the love and support of my parents. My mom just wants to keep me a little bit warmer in the snow as I keep forging my path. And because I know she’s standing behind me, I’ll do my best to make her proud.

Kristan and Angie would love to hear from you! Email