Tuesday, December 13, 2011

To give is better, or not to give? That is the question.

Facebook brings lots of thoughts and conversations into a public forum and over the last few days, I've "eavesdropped" on a young lady whom I love to pieces about buying Christmas gifts. She and her husband are expecting their first child and she posted a status that they are not able to buy Christmas gifts this year as they are preparing for their son's arrival and have other financial priorities. It seems she felt she needed to post this information because someone made a comment to her that they were offended that she wasn't buying gifts this year.

That got me thinking, Christmas gift -giving can be kind of like walking through a grenade field. I imagine most of us have had the experience of being presented with a gift from someone for whom we had not gotten one. There are many times in my life that people with significantly more income than I had me on their list and given my limited resources, I had not even considered them. Embarrassing. Of course, always they say that they didn't expect a gift. That's probably very true however, did not ease my unease.

This year at work we are trying to minimize the co-worker gift exchange by stating our request that a new pair of shoes be purchased instead of a gift for us. And I imagine that some sweet someone will buy said shoes and still bring in "just a little something" for others. That happens with the very best of intentions but honestly, I think if an agreement not to exchange gifts is made, you really need to stick to it.

As a mom, I am always uncomfortable with my kids giving me gifts. Always. Mother's Day makes me cringe, birthdays are the same. And of course, Christmas! I would prefer every cent they spend on me be applied to themselves for something they want or need or into the bank. I am in need of nothing and can scarcely make a wish list. I usually try to come up with a favor they can do as a gift to me, plant my flowers, do the housework for me, make me dinner. To me, this minimizes the focus on money and still allows them to properly honor their mom, which they want to do. As they get older and are now working, they very sweetly insist on giving us gifts.

What about the statement that one is not giving gifts to family. Obviously, this would not bother me whatsoever. But, there are people whom it would bother, I'm sure. I am aware that the opportunity to give gifts is not just a materialistic gesture. It's a way to honor those we love, to express what they mean to us. It's proper and right to want to do this, like my boys' desire to bless their dad and me. It feels good to do this. I like giving gifts myself, I get it!

If you cannot afford to or have simply chosen not to participate in the gift exchange part of the season, should you still make some effort to offer a gesture? Should you perhaps make something small like a Christmas ornament or bake something? Should you provide some small service like my aforementioned...making someone dinner or cleaning out their car? Or is it acceptable to abstain altogether.

And what about giving gifts to someone who has requested to not exchange? Do you still feel the need to give them a present? Should you?

I'm very interested in your opinions. Frankly, I don't think there is a right or wrong. I think we all have our varying opinions but maybe if we have a bit of a survey, we can negotiate that mine field with a little insight.


Margie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Margie said...

Well.... since you asked...

I like to give gifts and I'd really rather not get anything. I love that my daughter wants to buy me gift (because she has a giving heart - that's why I love it) but I'd rather not have her spend her money on me.

I also feel like my 'limits' are less than others spend. For example... my aunts spend $50 on Phyllis (or sometimes more!) and I spend $25 on their kids. For a long time I felt 'less' than them and guilty over the fact that they spent more. But giving is a choice we make. I spend a lot on 'donations' for those in need such as Joy to the D, or shoes, or bras, or whatever... and besides... I don't live in a life of comparisons (or I try not to).

I do buy gifts for the people in my group - two of the guys I buy calenders for (and also joke that it's a new car), and the ladies a little something, however I do not expect or WANT a gift, I just like to give! Especially if I know someone will enjoy it.

Whether people give to me or not, doesn't matter. I'd rather spend time with someone than get a gift because time is precious to me! I'd rather a trip to the DIA or the Henry Ford, or Panera, or Historical Museum, or Riverwalk or the zoo, or sitting on the couch drinking tea (or coffee).

I think if people want to give, they should do so expecting NOTHING in return. Then they won't be disappointed.

Pat said...

I'm not a bit uncomfortable receiving....bring it on! LOL!
As your son said...giving is a blessing, I would never want to deny anyone a blessing!