I’ve also been thinking quite about about what I don’t like about gift giving during the holidays. For several years now I’ve been part of the family at my in-laws and while things have gotten better, it still feels, well, wrong.
Betsy’s family has a long history of doing a gift exchange of enormous proportions. It makes things difficult because I have enjoyed so many of the things that I’ve gotten from them, but the sheer quantity and expense doesn’t sit well with me. In recent years there has been an attempt to curb some of the spending by instituting a spending cap, but even that number is much too large for my comfort.
Christmas Day, on the nice drive down to my parents house in southern Minnesota, I was thinking about how I could possibly ask for what I wanted and possibly make things easier for everyone, and not insult anyone in the process. One of the insights that I have had about gift giving in this season is that it really isn’t about the person receiving the gift, it’s all about the person giving the gift. There is some sense of personal accomplishment when they find something that is just right, or that they have lavished as many resources as they can to show someone how much they like them by giving them stuff that the receiver has little chance of remembering by the next season.
I don’t think that’s a bad thing in and of itself, but I do think that it engenders a certain amount of destructiveness when coupled with the commercial messages that say if you don’t spend as much as you can and get that exactly right item for everyone, you have FAILED and are obviously a bad person.
My thinking on that vein brought me to thinking that I would really rather ask that no one get anything for me at all for this sort of event (birthdays included here folks) but, let’s be honest here, I like getting stuff as much as the next person. So, as with so many other things I think I have come up with a compromise.
As people who peruse the rest of my site will see eventually (as soon as I finish it up), I am revising and updating my gift list and it goes into somewhat more detail about things that I would like and not like to receive but I would like to request that people who insist on getting me something limit it to 1 item for whatever gift giving event that it is. Just one. Please. I, and your finances, will both thank you for it.