Sunday, January 10, 2016

Gifts


I think I'll make 2016 a different sort of year. Oh sure, everyone says that each new year, but my focus may be a tad different than the typical lose weight, eat healthier, get more active bullshit.

In 2016 I'm going to stop giving.

I should clarify. I'm going to stop giving out of obligation in 2016. Each year the holiday season comes roaring in, causing unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety. Inevitably, I know, that people may be buying me presents, this instructive instinct causes a visceral reaction within me. 

Why?? 

I don't honestly know. I think it's a complex concoction of symptoms, cultural, familial, and emotional among others. I love giving people presents. Most people do. I believe we are created to give, so when you give shit to people you're doing something vital to your being.

Here's the irony, I don't hate getting gifts, I hate getting gifts when I don't have a gift to give in kind. Weird, huh? I'm not crazy about getting stuff on my birthday, or my birthday in general for that matter. I genuinely don't think I've done anything special to deserve anything on the day nature decided to force me into the bright, loud, scary world.

I don't like Christmas gift culture. It feels to contrived, almost as if capitalists all decided to bastardize a religious season, and all the zombies (myself included) ate it up. I admire making a living, and working hard for what you earn, but I hate the commercializations of it.

So what is at the root of my gift hating syndrome? 

Since I think about things way too much I think I have a few ideas:

1) I hate feeling indebted to another. 

I know the purpose of a gift isn't to elicit this feeling. To the contrary, the "gifter" probably just wanted to do something nice for the "giftee", and if I was in the position of giving, I wouldn't think twice. 

Nonetheless, I still feel a sense of indebtedness after receiving a gift that just won't go away. It's horrible. Part of it is probably how I grew up. The concept of getting something for nothing is so closely related to welfare, something I can't stand. 

I need to work on this. Welfare and charity are distinct and mutually exclusive.

2) Holidays always strike when I seem to be in a fiscal hole.

When holiday season comes roaring in, and all the companies unleash their new plastic shit for the masses to consume, it is hard not to join the feeding frenzy. I hate that I can't participate. Even though the very participation in such an event means contributing to the cheapening of the season. More of that in point three...

3) A gift shouldn't be scheduled!

This defeats the very premise of giving a gift. Now every year, like clockwork, people are laden with expectations, intentional or unintentional. 
"Oh, what did you get so-and-so for Christmas??" 

"Do you know what we are doing for Christmas gifts this year?"

"What is on your Christmas list??"

We have been trained in our culture to simply assume that Christmas comes hand in hand with presents, and that Thanksgiving is the unofficial time to begin to worry about getting family and friends the flashiest things before they run out. Profit margins must increase, after all.

And each year we get the recap of how successful or unsuccessful Black Friday and holiday sales were. Almost like a report card.

The nature of a gift isn't, and shouldn't be compulsory. Many would argue that they never asked for anything in return, but when you get to sit in a room where everyone got everyone else something, you are being inadvertently socially shamed. Sadly, we as people are social creatures who largely crave inclusion, and acceptance. This varies per individual, but nonetheless we all have some degree of this. 

I'm just far worse than most in sensitivity to this.

4) I hate the expectation reacting to a gift.

Ever opened a gift that just completely screamed useless? Something of no value to you? You look up, frantic, see the searching eyes locked on you, waiting for you to elicit a shout of joy because this useless item should be everything you ever hoped it would be??

I exaggerate of course, but sometimes it feels that way. Not only do I have to worry about receiving a gift which I cannot reciprocate for, but I also have to mind my mannerisms so I don't hurt the person who took the time to buy my broke ass a gift.

I can't stand the pressure. 

These are all the qualms I can think of, but if there are more, I'm quite sure I'll do a second part of this post.

Long story short, this year, I resolve to return to the meaning of the word "gift". I will not submit to the compulsory societal traditions mandating gift giving to the individual. I will not submit to peer assumptions (intentional or inadvertent alike) that certain events stipulate that gifts must be exchanged. When I give, I will give when I can and what I can. It will be from the heart, and not the calendar. 

This is, I think, a return to the freeing joy of giving.


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