But although I’m intellectually interested in the impulse toward gift-giving, I don’t like gift-giving much, myself.
I worry that I’m mean-spirited, because I don’t like to bring a little box of chocolates to a dinner party, or to give a birthday present to an adult.
It’s not because I’m cheap. I am an under-buyer, but I don’t begrudge spending on friends and family.
Partly it’s because I like to minimize trouble. I dislike shopping. I don’t want to create more errands for myself.
Partly it’s because I think that, often, people don’t really want these gifts. More birthday gifts for children who already opened too many presents on their birthday; more high-calorie treats for people who are watching their weight.
But although I’ve tried to pretend that gift-giving didn’t matter much, I’ve always known that it DOES matter. It’s an important gesture.
So I was very interested to read Tara Parker-Pope’s New York Times article, A Gift That Keeps On Giving? A Gift Itself. In a nutshell, “People who refuse to accept or exchange gifts during the holidays, these experts say, may be missing out on an important connection with family and friends.”
Gift-giving makes me stop and think about the people in my life, what they like, what they need. It’s tangible proof of my affection.
So, okay. I don’t like to shop or do errands, but what can I do, within the confines of my own nature, to be generous? I need to cultivate a generosity of spirit.
First, I need to observe the gift-giving traditions: holidays, birthdays, and Mother’s/Father’s Day.
Also, a way for me to be generous is to send people books. If there’s something I think they’d really like, I send it through Amazon. It’s easy, it’s efficient, and it’s thoughtful.
Observing traditional gift-giving occasions is important, because it shows planning and thoughtfulness, and if a person is expecting a gift, there’s no disappointment and hurt.
Surprising someone with a gift gives a little extra thrill to the recipient. Studies show that people react more strongly when they receive an unexpected, rather than expected, present.
I need to buy a gift today, in fact! It matters.
Lots of great posts on Dumb Little Man lately.
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