November 29th, 2010

dream

On gifts and gifting

I've noted a number of people (both in the past and this year) who have declared that they don't want gifts for Christmas/Yule/etc. While I understand and respect this, it makes me wonder...

Giving, really, is (or should be) as much for the giver as for the recipient. Should one's desires automatically take precedence over the other's? How do we honor both of them?

It's also worth examining the societal ideation that holiday giving is some kind of "quid pro quo" situation- that you're obligated to give gifts to everyone who gives to you; sometimes even that they need to be of an equivalent value (either monetarily or time/effort investment). While this sort of thing may be true in some families (not to mention the more mechanical sorts of office gift exchanges), it really need not- and should not, IMHO- be true in gifting between friends. Giving should be done because it makes the giver happy and makes the recipient happy, not out of some sense of obligation. That's what generosity is.

One good answer is charity donations and the like. The giver may need to do a little inner reset to realize that just because they're not giving something tangible, it is still a gift. There are, of course, other "intangible" gifts that could work for both giver and recipient.

But what about when the giver has bought or found a gift months in advance, and already has it in their possession? What's to do then? (NOTE: neither monsteralice nor I are in this situation this year, although we have been in the past.) Maybe the inner reset has to be on the recipient's side this time- to take the gift as an expression of love, and to know that nothing is required in turn.

Discuss.
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