Gift giving is a tricky business, no? I am not big on mandatory gifts. I hate when people feel obligated and I hate feeling obligated back. So last year we stopped. We gave to who we wanted and let the others go. It was nice. A little guilt inducing, but nice. My sister and I stopped giving gifts to one another - mostly - and that's been really nice, given that Christmas, her birthday, my birthday, Isaac's birthday and her hubby's birthday all hit back to back to back in the span of 2.1 months. I say mostly because we have the occasional trips. Like this one, found in my house as a surprise.
this one, given to my sister for her birthday because HOW COULD I NOT?
But that's the point. These things were not done out of obligation or assumption that anything was owed, or needed to be given in kind. They were done simply because my sister rocks in the gifts department and, well, again. I had to, with the book. I had no choice! And there is real freedom, there. Knowing the things you are giving are heartfelt and not rote. I've never read that Love Languages book, but I'm pretty sure "buying me stuff out of obligation" is NOT mine.
I'm pretty lucky, as most of the people who DO get me things are good gift givers. My friend Lbs comes to mind. Her birthday packages are pretty legendary in my house. I sometimes try to reciprocate, but I bow to her grand mastery, really. But I've heard some horror stories of bad gift giving (and, well, had a few myself!) and it just makes me sad and I always thing "do you not know _____? At all?". I guess that's another reason I don't like obligation giving. If you can't find something and says "Perfect! ________ would LOVE this!", then...well... I know that's not always possible. There ARE people you need to gift things to that are hard to buy for *coughmyhusbandcough* but mostly, I think we should be giving more often, just because, and less when society demands. How much pressure would be off, then? We could celebrate the holidays with gatherings and game nights and true friendship instead of that awkward, "oh, thanks! I have SOMETHING for you, I'll get it to you soon!" and then tossing a bottle of sparkling cider out the door before they realize you had NOTHING for them.
And maybe we should all take a mandatory good gift giving class, just to clear up any lingering awkwardness...
(this gift, glen hansard)