Gift Giving

Oh goodie!  A present!

But wait. Is it freely given, or does it come with strings attached? And will I now be expected to reciprocate?

gift

For some people, gift giving is easy. They have a knack for choosing just the right thing and the right time to give the gift.They seem to know all the etiquette involved and do everything right.

With various celebrations, including Mother’s Day, coming up, I’ve been pondering the idea of gift giving. “What? When? Whether? Why?” and many other questions roiled around in my head.

I found myself thinking about why people give gifts. Sometimes the giving is done from sheer love and generosity; other times under duress and necessity. It’s a complicated custom, this gift giving. To make it even more complicated, not all gifts are tangible items. They could take the form of favours, time, free labour, or many other non-material things.

Here are a few of the reasons people give gifts:

  • to make someone happy
  • to even a perceived score
  • to ingratiate themselves with the receiver
  • to get something from the receiver
  • because duty demands that they give a gift on this occasion
  • to get rid of something they didn’t want anyway
  • to win someone’s love
  • to gain influence
  • to stay in the receiver’s good graces

I’m beginning to wonder if I like the idea of gift giving so much anymore. To my mind, the only worthwhile reason for giving a gift  is the first one – to make someone happy.

Have you ever received a gift that is obviously of no value to the giver? Does it make you wonder what they were thinking? It could be a case of “This item is no good to me but I know who would like to have it.” Or it could be, “Duty says I have to give a gift. I know, I’ll get rid of this ugly thing I’ve never liked anyway.”

The first seems acceptable to me, but the second makes me wonder what the giver thinks of the person to whom they are giving the “ugly thing.”

Have you ever received a gift that is shabby and conveys that the person thinks it’s good enough for you?

Have you ever received a gift of such value that you feel you’ll never be able to reciprocate and so you will always be beholden to the giver if you accept?

Have you ever received a gift that shows that the giver gave no thought at all to whether or not it might please you?

Gift giving can be complicated. Do you have a gift story to share with us?

 

28 thoughts on “Gift Giving

  1. You are so right…gift giving and receiving can be complicated. I have a friend who who gives expensive gifts…but always at a price. As for me, there is so little that I need or want that I prefer any gifts to be a lunch, a walk by the river…time with my loved ones means the more to me than something in a box.

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  2. I think the gift of our time, especially to those who might be lonely, is a wonderful gift. Funny, today after work, I stopped to get some things for my mom’s Mother’s Day gift bag. She doesn’t like when I spent money on her, so I buy her little odds and ends that she likes and uses. It’s always fun to watch her face light up as she pulls items from the bag. 🙂

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  3. I really like the way you listed and analyzed the gift giving process and some of the less positive parts of receiving. I have someone who always seems to recycle her gifts. I used to be this way, because I only had a little extra while raising my three children. I like her candles and her little hand towels, sometimes I don’t like it, then I ask my friend who is my best confidante, “Do you like evergreen candles?” or “Would you like a Valentine’s Day tea towel?” She usually says, “Yes!”
    My favorite gift story is when I was four years old I heard songs about “Peace on Earth” and at church, we would say, “Peace be with you.” So, when I was on Santa’s knee, my brothers were only 2 and 1/2 (Randy) and an infant (Rich) so my Dad went up with just me, to let me talk to Santa. My Dad had no idea what I was going to say, either. When Santa greeted me and asked the question this is how it went, “Well, hello little girl, what do you want Santa to bring you this Christmas?” I looked solemnly at him and said, “Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards Men.” He replied, “Why, that is nice and don’t worry, we have Peace, so what would you like me to bring you under your Christmas tree?” Well, Anneli, I knew we didn’t have Peace! I had heard a little of my parents talking about Civil Rights and saw some skirmishes on television news. (Not sure in 1959 what they were about?) but anyway, I didn’t believe Santa! I turned to my Dad and said, “He isn’t really Santa!” I started to get down but my Dad told me to tell Santa’s “helper” a toy or something I wanted, so I said, “May I please have a pair of red shoes?” Santa, “Ho-ho-ho’ed,” was jolly and nice. I got off his knee and when I woke up on Christmas morning I had a large Little Miss Echo doll. It could stand up and reach my chin almost! My Mom told me that Dad was so proud of me and was so sweet that he had searched for a few hours in a couple of stores for this doll. You could talk into her bodice, just below her neck and she would say what you said back to you! I also got a pair of red flat colored leather shoes with a strap across the top of my feet. I really like looking at these for quite some time, but I don’t think I have them anymore.
    I kept Miss Echo for years but when I had my moving out of my last house and “getting a divorce so I need money garage sale,” the doll and many nice things got sold! I sure did love her and in my Mom’s senior apartments my Mom thinks a neighbor or hers has my doll. It is standing under the shelf by the woman’s door. She has lovely clothes for her, too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • You are welcome, I wrote this in my high school literary magazine, where I imagined Santa being a Vietnam veteran and not autobiographical but another little girl asking for Peace on Earth. I got a lot of compliments and may have written a post about this awhile back, when I was trying all sorts of things on my blog! Thank you for liking it, Anneli. Hugs, Robin

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  4. That’s a lot of questions! As to receiving an item that might be re-gifted, I usually give the person the benefit of the doubt. It’s hard to choose gifts for someone you don’t know that well. And I do give friends things that I have no use for, but those aren’t real presents. And I always ask first. There’s always Goodwill.

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    • I hadn’t meant you to feel like you had to answer all of them. Just things to think about. But giving friends things you don’t need is not like pretending it’s a special gift that needs to be reciprocated. I think it’s nice to give away things you don’t need to someone who might use them. And yes, there’s always Goodwill.

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  5. I rather like the re-gifting idea. One man’s junk is another’s treasure. Or, if it’s something I can’t use or a duplicate, and I know someone who could use it, why not re-gift? But all gifts should be given because the giver truly wants to.

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  6. Most often I find it hard to come up with something. There’s this usual cliché; “what do you give to someone who has everything?” I sure have given pointless gifts, just because tradition/custom/duty whatever demands it.

    I love it when I see something I just _know_ a friend would love to own, and to be able to buy it.

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  7. I love giving gifts, just when it comes over me. I hate being pressured to buy a gift at Christmas, Valentines, Easter, etc. I give gifts when I see something which I would love to give (or sometimes I give it to myself).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a great topic, Anneli. I can’t remember the last time I gave a gift just for the joy of giving. It’s not even fun to get my little nephews gifts, because their parents have spoiled them with everything they want and need. I couldn’t come up with something I could afford that would actually make them happy. So, I put $5 in a few different birthday cards and hid them around the house. Then, I made it like a treasure hunt and gave them clues on where to find them. They had fun doing it, and with each card there was money!

    I have another story that I could only write here and not on my blog(family reads). My mother-in-law always sent me little gifts (trinkets I didn’t need) in the mail in order to get me to do what she wanted. It was such a manipulation to get me to give up my family for hers. After over 20 years, I couldn’t take it anymore. I finally told her that if she sent me one more gift to bribe me to do something, I was going to ship it back to her. Sure enough, she sent me another gift. I always say what I mean and mean what I say. She got it returned back in the mail.

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  9. My mom is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. She’s in a memory care facility so there are more things I can’t get her, than things I can get for her. For instance, no food or candy. Any clothes or trinkets are likely to be borrowed by another patient who also doesn’t remember that they don’t belong to her. I’m pretty much reduced to sending flowers that will be gone within a week but hopefully for the week that she has them, she enjoys them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a very tough situation. All you can do is give her the gift of your time, most likely in short and frequent visits. Hopefully she will enjoy the company even if there comes a time when she doesn’t know you. The flowers are a nice idea too.

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  11. Gifts chosen with love from the heart are best – I keep telling my youngest son, who is cash strapped, that he doesn’t need to spend money. He could wash my car, or clean the house or any number of other things that I would really appreciate. He prefers to buy something. I guess time is time is too precious a commodity … he’ll learn

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