Tis the season to be giving and so we are treated to articles in our newspapers about gift ideas or cool things that people are doing to make other people’s lives better at this time of year. And then, I came across this: the Vancouver Sun recently had an article that suggested that storing up gifts all year to give away may be cheapening the entire concept of giving gifts.
Well, I’ve been called cheap before but always in the nicest way. This just made me shake my head.
The article quotes Professor Judy Zaichkowsky (from SFU, my own alma mater no less) and Thyra Uth Thomsen (from Denmark) whose research into gift giving implies that if you are stocking items with no one in particular in mind, then you are somehow demeaning the spirit of gift-giving because your potential gift is not intended for someone specific.
People who “receive gifts which they suspect are from storage may perceive a lack of caring and even feel insulted,” they wrote.
My question is: why would they suspect that your gift is coming from a storage closet filled with gifts? What the research assumes is that I am not only purchasing thoughtlessly but I am giving thoughtlessly as well.
So if I find a Philips Screwdriver on sale somewhere and think “this would make a great gift for a handy-man or someone who is moving into their first home” but do not have a specific person in mind, I’m somehow screwing the spirit of gift-giving. (see what I did there?)
That would be true if I gave that screwdriver to my mom for her 80th birthday. If I did that, she might correctly suspect that I gave absolutely no forethought to her birthday gift but just reached into the abyss of my Gift Stockpile Closet and grabbed the first thing I saw, wrapped it and gave it to her.
But if I give that screwdriver to, say, my son when he moves out on his own for the last time (see what I also did there?) as part of a starter toolbox – that would be a damn good gift. Buying it on sale, just means I saved money AND time.
Maybe I need to do my PhD on living a thrifted lifestyle. Or on the absence of common sense in the world. Or people who have too much time on their hands and manage to get paid to write nonsense (even if they do go to my alma mater and even if their writing partner lives in a happy place like Denmark.)
So how about you? Do you have a stash of gifts that you’ve purchased throughout the year just in case you need to give something to someone? Have you ever felt bad or insulted by a gift?