There is a really quick way to offend my wonderful wife, give her a large gift to make up for not spending time with her.  This is not something I remember ever doing but that charge has been levelled, by her, against different people over the years we have been together.  Of course I may have selective memory about my own bad behaviour.

What this makes me think is that relationships have a certain durability to them that can be damaged by ignoring them and trying to make it up by other means.  Like the husband who brings home flowers because he is late from work the gift does not help the relationship; it is just an apology.  We teach our super son that we would prefer good behaviour and not apologies and some of it seems slowly to be sinking in.  This is as true in other relationships.

For my wonderful wife the best gift you can give is the gift of time.  The theological reflection on this is not that relationships are different and what is the best thing to give someone varies but rather what is the strength of your relationship with someone?  I know what is the best gift for my wife, at least to a limited extent.  In your relationships what is best?  Someone I know proposed recently and did it in a way that I would consider romantic, I hope he and his fiancée thought it was romantic too.  That is the way these things should be done.  To paraphrase Tony Campolo from this weekend, he looked into the woman and saw her and connected.  Giving gifts, in whatever form, requires we look into the other person and draw out what is best for them while remaining connected.  Sure a practical gift like a mulcher may be appreciated but does it reflect a strong relationship with that person?  Does it reflect knowing the person?  Does it reflect looking inside them and giving them what their heart really wants.  I know I don’t always succeed but at least I do sometimes.

So what is the strength of your relationships and what gifts are appropriate for your relationship?