Monday, February 07, 2005

I hate presents

I'm not sure who can identify with this and who can't, but: I kind of hate gifts.

I hate buying them, because I never know what to get. How much is too much to spend? How much is too little? How could I possibly know what a person wants better than they do? If they don't like my gift, they're still going to feel obligated to praise it and possibly wear/use it, just because I bought it for them. It's stupid, and a waste of money and everyone's time. And if it's a situation where others are also bringing gifts for this person, what if two of us get him/her the same thing, only one person's gift clearly costs 6 times as much as the other person's? Unless I happen to know exactly what the person wants, it's way too much pressure.

I like receiving gifts all right (even tho I'd prolly just as soon have the cash), because I am shallow and selfish. But even then, I'd rather buy my own watches, wallets, etc.

Also, there's the money. (I'm part Jewish, and with my reddish beard I'm told I look Scottish, so perhaps I have an excuse.) My fondest wish is that we could someday get out of debt and learn to live within our means, rather than continuing our current Shopping Tsunami approach to spending. So if you are a member of my household and want to do something nice for me, you could just give me the money you were going to spend on a shirt or sweater or whatever, and I'll put it toward the VISA bill. Yes, it's unromantic. But so is the Sherriff when he comes to chuck all your furniture into the street.

But most of all, I detest the part about opening gifts in front of people. Someone has gone to some trouble to try to please me, and here they are looking at me with this bright smile of expectation, and there is of course only one right answer to the question of whether I like it or not, even if it's a pair of lime green polyester dress slacks, or a personalized colonic hose.

Don't get me wrong -- I understand that "it's the thought that counts" (I'm not a total idiot). And I *do* appreciate others' kindnesses. But if were really the thought that counted, I could just say "I'm honored and touched and grateful that you got me a gift. No matter what it is, I'll appreciate it, because it came from you. And I'm sure to enjoy opening it -- later, after you've gone home." But no, that's not how it works -- nothing will do but that I open the cursed gift in front of everyone.

And when I open the stupid thing, I feel like I'm supposed to emote and exclaim and cavort and have a general spazz attack about how this is the greatest gift ever, and it feels very fakey to me because I'm not that way -- I'm not real skilled at expressing my emotions. (I'm male -- we barely even *have* emotions, let alone recognize what they are or know how to express them.)

So even if I really really REALLY love the gift you gave me, I'm still not going to jump up and down and clutch it to my chest and shriek and slobber and get all teary. But I feel under a lot of pressure to do so, which makes the whole gift-opening thing kind of stressful for me.

Related story: Friday was my 40th birthday [cue funeral march], and my beloved sister sent me a gift package in the mail. Since she knows how I feel about having to enthuse about gifts, she included a self-written highly-enthusiastic and emotional Thank You letter, with a box I could check and a self-addressed, prepaid envelope for sending it back to her. It was one of the best gifts I ever got. :-)


At Mon Feb 07, 08:47:00 AM PST, Blogger No_Newz said...

Happy birthday! Sorry you aren't a fan of gifts so I will just take this convertable and drive away now. ;)
Sounds like your sister has got your number! Yay sis!
Lois Lane

At Mon Feb 07, 10:56:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's lucky I didn't get you anything. That was close!

ok, you know someone had to say that. -Kire

At Mon Feb 07, 12:24:00 PM PST, Blogger anya ransuns aka Roxy said...

Wow, I may have said this before, but I'll have to say it again: what an amazing sister you have. Unparalleled, really.

At Mon Feb 07, 03:31:00 PM PST, Blogger unca said...

Well, I must say--40 years is a bit young to sound this curmudgeonly. But, really, who says you're supposed to gush and swoon? I think most people understand the giftee well enough to realize that in your case, a simple, "Thanks, I really appreciate this -- very nice," is all that's excpected in return.

["Anything more than the truth, would have seemed to weak." -- Robert Frost.]

At Mon Feb 07, 10:16:00 PM PST, Blogger mamacita said...

Well, gift-hater, this comment is all about me. In my somewhat limited relationship with you, you have always gotten me just the right gifts (now everyone will know we are related, oh, well). Your gift-choosing may have been helped considerable by your cute wife, though.


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