Presents! I love presents! Cole loves presents! We love to give presents and to receive them and we never, ever say “You shouldn’t have.” Of course, someday I’ll tell you about the full-length hot pink rabbit-fur coat that I received as a gift when I turned 18. But that’s a blog post for another day. Now, let’s see what Cousin Carla has to share:
I recently mentioned to Cousin Carla how much Cole was enjoying the Mighty Wallet she sent him, which, I guess, put her gift-giving rant into motion.
Just a quick FYI before we move on to Carla’s rant….this is a great gift for a tough to buy for teen boy….Really.
Ever since I got your first email, I’ve been thinking about gift-giving and gift-receiving.
I can not tell you the number of gifts that I have agonized over. I also can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve bought a gift and then second-guessed myself and not given it. I have no idea what I’m so afraid of. I’m pretty sure the world won’t end if someone gets a gift they don’t like. What’s the worst thing that could happen? They re-gift it? They give it to charity? They return it? To be honest, all of these options are preferable to the person keeping it and never using it. I’ll never forget going to a friend’s house on Christmas day, having them show me a gift they had received, and then hearing them just mock the hell out of it.
“This is SO stupid! How could anyone ever buy this ridiculous piece of crap?!”
When I suggested that perhaps it was the thought that mattered, she responded with, “Not when it’s a stupid thought!”
I had no answer to that. I still don’t. I just live in fear of being the stupid thought.
I’m not a big believer in gift cards. For Christmas, my kids (all 6 of them!) would probably be happiest if they just got a big box of cash. This would also make my life infinitely easier, since I do the shopping not only for all of them and my husband and myself, but also for both of my brothers and my mother. Why do I put myself through the torture of searching out gifts that are unique and memorable every single year? Some are sure winners, but I keep every receipt for every little thing, including the candy in the stockings, “just in case.” It’s now the beginning of May and I’m still holding onto the receipts from last Christmas.
The pressure of gift-giving is only matched by the pressure of gift-receiving. The most hated words in the human language are, “You are going to LOVE what I got you!” This phrase is always spoken with a huge smile and accompanied by a ton of expectation! How do you respond to that? There’s no face surprised enough, no smile big enough, no “I love it” loud enough to match the person’s expectations.
The gift-receiving pressure is also caused by the people who always keep track of every “thank you.” These are the people who remember that you didn’t send them a thank-you note for the gift they brought you in the hospital as you were fighting off the effects of sedatives and painkillers while trying to be entertaining and charming and swallowing your nausea. Somehow, they still expect a handwritten note.
All of this leads me to the conclusion that gift-giving should be done completely through the mail, without any announcement of the gift’s arrival. Doing so would give the recipient an opportunity to gather their thoughts and respond. The response could be a handwritten note, an email, a phone call, a text, a Facebook post, a tweet, a picture of them holding the gift and smiling, or a kind email sent a month later, reminding the giver that the gift was a good idea.
Of course, the best thank-you for any gift is seeing how a person enjoys it. Sometimes that means them using it and other times, it means sharing it with someone else. Whatever the response, I am going to try to stop living in fear of being “the stupid thought” and give gifts more freely, more often, and with fewer expectations.
I’m thrilled that Cole likes his wallet. It gives me the courage to go out and gift again!
We are always happy to help! If anyone else needs help with a gift giving phobia please feel free to call on US–we promise to keep our expectations low, our appreciation high, and love whatever is sent our way. And speaking of you….what are your thoughts on the subject of gifts?