Ahhh, Christmas, that special time of year when too many people over stress, over shop, and over spend, all for the sake of giving the perfect gifts. Do we select a gift based on practicality, or is it something a bit more special, maybe something the gift receiver wouldn’t purchase? Do we ask for requests and then feel obligated to only give from that list regardless of the absurdity of the requests? Maybe the question to ask is “why am I giving this gift in the first place, and what kind of message do I want to send?”
I am the first to admit, at times I am more than a little too sensitive. I’ve cried over ads on TV and songs on the radio. I’ve had hurt feelings over misinterpreted comments and glances, and my ego has been bruised when I was being complimented. However, I blame a lot of this on a hormonal imbalance that seems to have followed me since about …birth.
But last year, my best friend offered to buy me a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. I am not kidding. And neither was she.
So was I being too sensitive when I felt a bit offended? I don’t think so. To be fair, she had heard me mumble “someday, I need to get a new vacuum”, and she was just trying to be helpful. But what was I to think? Now, I could dwell on the implications this drew about my housecleaning skills, but instead, I began thinking about the delicate art of gift giving.
One year at Christmas I received a basket filled with kitchen gadgets from a group at work. I knew they had the best of intentions as they knew I loved to cook, but all I could focus on was the package of jar grips in the basket. My jaw dropped. Is that really the gift that says “thanks for being there for us and we really appreciate your support”? Instead the package screamed “thought you could use these as you continue to lose strength in your hands and succumb to other impairments associated with getting old”. Ok, again, maybe a bit too sensitive.
In my grandma’s final years, she gave me silver serving pieces for Christmas, knowing that as I got older, I would probably value them. I remember going back to school and my friends were all excited about their cool gifts. I knew I’d fit right in with my story of a matching berry spoon and meat fork – high on every 15 year old’s list of must haves. Today, I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
I will never claim to know all the rules of gift giving etiquette (or gift receiving for that matter). Too often, I am sure I have given what I really wanted the person to want, not what I thought they might like. So when a niece or nephew graduated from high school, they’d get a nice blanket or some dorm room stuff. Of course, they wanted money. And I’ve always said, “I give gifts I’d like to receive” – how selfish is that. But trust me, I have never given a vacuum cleaner, yet that was what my friend thought I could use or wanted. Now what kind of message was that?
So who is with me? Who has received gifts, or better yet, given gifts that you wish you could “do over”? I’m sure I’m not alone.
Please consider sharing this blog with your friends – think of it as a gift!
I'm so impressed that your best friend really listens and followed through and made the purchase! She has no control over your reaction, only you do. You have a huge heart… I would ditch the hormones.
Pam Sievers says
Thanks – this made me chuckle. Consider the hormones ditched – great advice. Incidentally, she didn't make the purchase but she did tell me where I could get it for a really good price. Now that's a great friend!