Sentimental and loving gifts are far more important to mothers than the expense of a gift, agreed BYU-Hawaii students and faculty.
Melissa Glenn, an assistant professor of vocal performance, has three young kids all under the age of seven. Although she has never received a gift from them, she said, "I feel like the best gifts for moms are things that allow her to focus on herself, [which] usually have to do with time because that’s something you're always short of.
“Usually people take care of their needs, but they don't always have their wants taken care of. I wouldn’t get her a new vacuum. That’s maybe not what she likes to do, it's what she has to do.” A good gift would be something “they want, but they wouldn’t buy themselves because it feels too frivolous to buy,” she added.
Glenn shared a story of when her and her sister provided ballroom lessons to her mom and her stepfather. She said, “I think it was memorable to me because it was one of those things where she wouldn’t have spent the money on it because it wasn't a need but a want.
“We have a basic human desire to feel important to people that we care about. We want to know that we are as important to them as they are to us.”
Carol Bennett, an assistant professor of elementary education, has four children and 14 grandchildren. She said, “Most materialistic gifts end up being returned. Time given can never be returned but rather shared or paid forward.”
As a mother, Bennett disclosed what she would want from her children for Christmas. She said, “All I really want is a handwritten letter about what I mean to them and how much they love and appreciate me. It shows that you care enough to take the time and thought to give a sincere gift.”
Bennett shared a story of a gift her son gave her one year for Christmas. She said, “Last Christmas, one of my sons gave me a Fitbit along with a card that read: 'Please use this to motivate you to exercise every day because I want you around for a very long time.”" To Bennett, this showed the love her son had for her. “Mothers love heartfelt letters, pictures of their children and of course chocolate.”
Brandon Huang, a junior from Taiwan studying fine arts, showed interest in gifts that were not temporal objects. When Huang was asked what gift he would buy his mom for Christmas, he couldn't think of one thing. He said, “I don’t think my mom would wish [for] any material things. She just wants her children to come back.
“I just wish I could buy a ticket and fly back home and give my mom a hug. Isn't the meaning of Christmas having your family together?”
Katya Jackson, a sophomore from Utah studying psychology, said, “For me, probably the most meaningful thing to get my mom is just something homemade. I do art, so she loves when I make her art to hang up on her walls.”
Although recognizing that not all mothers will want the same gift others moms would want, Jackson said, “In general, a good gift would be something that they wouldn’t normally get but something that you can enjoy together because quality time is really important.
“I feel like a lot of the time we take our parents for granted and all they do for us. Quality time is the base of making relationships and establishing those relationships. Especially because most of us are away from home now, we want to make sure the time we do have is quality time and spent worthwhile so you can make those memories.”
Jackson shared the importance of personalized gifts. She said, “As far as buying things, I think something thought out is better. Not just something any girl would need like lotion or perfume. Even if you can't afford something nice, if you put in the thought and the time to make it, then that’s what matters.”
She advised that a good gift is “a reminder of how much you appreciate them.” But overall, “Christmas isn't always about the gift, it's about showing people you love them.”
Acknowledging the expense of being a college student, Glenn advised, “Most parents aren't going to expect something nice because they know your situation. That classic cliché of, ‘It’s the thought that counts,’ really goes far. I think it's hard to find objects for anyone.”