Seems to me I’ve written about Christmas shopping before in this space.
It was probably something like “trying to talk myself into starting my Christmas shopping earlier next year,” or, “don’t forget to pitch in on community-based initiatives like Angel Tree while you’re getting your shopping done.”
While those are certainly worthwhile ideas to explore in a column, this time I’m going to work through my thoughts on gift giving itself, because it’s been on my mind. (See? I’m starting earlier this year!)
Let’s start with how we decide on what to give someone for Christmas.
I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to find “the perfect gift” for a loved one, and I’m not sure that’s healthy.
I mean, everyone wants to give a gift that the recipient will appreciate, but is there some kind of deep-rooted desire to “win Christmas” for some reason that makes us want to get everyone their favourite gift of the year?
Shouldn’t the act of giving be more altruistic than that?
Well, I’m not convinced ethical altruism even exists, technically, but that’s a discussion for another time, probably.
In any case, it feels, somehow, like it’s just not quite good enough to give someone something they’ll like, doesn’t it?
It’s gotta be exactly right.
But is that a realistic expectation to place on ourselves?
Of course not.
I was having the annual conversation with my wife the other day about our plans for Christmas gifts this year in terms of all the cousins and nieces and in-laws and what-have-yous, and we got to the point where it was actually suggested that maybe everyone just gets a gift card this year.
“BLASPHEMY,” was my immediate first thought. I’ve always been fairly anti-gift-card when it came to Christmas and birthday gifts. I think it’s because it felt like I would be proclaiming that I was too lazy or didn’t care enough about the person to actually consider what they would like to receive and then go find it. It always felt like a cop-out.
But then I took a moment to look at it a bit differently.
If our goal it to get someone we love something they actually want, is there anything inherently what’s wrong with just letting them pick it out? I mean, we force our kids to create a wish list – many of us do it for others in the family, as well – and a gift card is really only taking that idea one step further. I mean, if you’re going to pick your gift from the list of requests provided, you’ve basically already said, “go pick something out and I’ll pay for it,” so what’s wrong with cutting out the middle man?
I don’t know. I’m still not fully on-board with the gift card thing, but I can’t call myself totally against it anymore, I don’t think.
I do know, however, that I’m going to try to stop putting so much pressure on myself in choosing gifts for people.
After all, it’s supposed to feel good to give something to someone you care about, not leave you wondering if you did good enough.
Just know that if you get a gift card from me this year, it’s not a choice I made lightly. I honestly thought you’d appreciate it more than the many other things I considered before that.