Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Gifts...


So here we are in that holiday time of year again.

The caroling.

The candles (note how all religions enjoy the candles).

The pretty decorations.

The tacky decorations.

And of course....

The gifts.

Well. That's always the issue, isn't it.

WHAT do I give (fill in name of recipient)??!!

We feel compelled to fulfill societal obligations of gift-giving at this time of year. Personally, I love the giving part. I don't hate the receiving part. But I despise the obligation part. It's that obligation that ends with someone receiving some sort of semi-crap gift that they do not want, need or know what to do with. And then the guilt. Someone you like, or love even, gave you this... well, let's call it a fruitcake for now (but it can be any useless item)... and you simply HATE fruitcake. And you have no ROOM to keep a fruitcake. A fruitcake does not go with your ultramodern bachelor/bachelorette pad. (I love the groovy lingo...) and in fact is interfering with your feng shui.

What do I do with this f-ing FRUITCAKE?!

This is the conundrum.

We want to keep the fruitcake. We want to love the fruitcake and display it and show our friends and neighbors and the Con Edison worker who comes to read the meter. "Look at this lovely fruitcake my friend/sister/lover/co-worker gave me! Isn't it swell!??"

But we can't.

Because we hate the fruitcake.
We think about re-gifting.
We want to chuck the fruitcake in the trash.

But it was a gift.

Shit.

Okay, here's the thing. Just because someone gave it to us, doesn't mean we have to like it. Or keep it. We can get rid of it. And it doesn't make us bad, or ungrateful. What we KEEP is the gesture. The thought behind the gift, though if it really IS a fruitcake... we might want to rethink that thought... (and the giver.... I'm just saying... fruitcake? C'mon.)

But people feel the pressure at this time of year. They feel the desperation of 'what do I give'! And they end up with a fruitcake. Because they want to make the gesture, they want to do the giving thing, but it's tough to come up with the perfect gift - and there it is, in the tin, the fruitcake.

I have been decluttering my home. I'm clearing out EVERYTHING. I really don't want any more fruitcake cluttering up my chi. And I do NOT want to give anyone more fruitcake that they will have to deal with either. What to do?

Letting go of the obligatory gifting is the first step. It's commercialism gone wild after all, so why go there? My friend Kori has worked under a really good gifting practice for the past few years. I'm going to borrow it and share it here.

If you see a perfect gift for someone: get it, give it and WHEEE!
If you do not know what to give someone: do NOT just go for 'anything' - if it's not special and right for the recipient, just pass until something that IS right presents itself, and give it then.

Just because it is a holiday where gifting has become obligatory, does not mean you must conform. Don't conform. If you find a great gift for someone in July, get it and give it to them. The thought is far more important than the obligation.

I love this idea. It takes the pressure off, thus dissipating the dreaded holiday depression, it makes every day a potential day of surprise gifts, and best of all: no more fruitcake!

Of course it's tough to break the old habits, so if you feel compelled to fruitcake someone you love... maybe you could make them something edible (fruitcake is not edible, so don't get any smart ideas), or get them a gift certificate to a store they like, see if they have an online wish list, or make a donation in their name to a charity they love, or some nice candles - you burn 'em, they're nice and then they're gone (and remember all the religions love the candles!), or take them to dinner, or get them a massage! All these things are gifts, they don't clutter up the house, they show you care, and they're things people don't usually get themselves... and they aren't fruitcake.

Merry Merry
Happy Happy

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