Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Politics of Gift Giving; Can't We Just Listen to People's Preferences?

Today, I went through my first Christmas since my father died & after all kinds of shit has been going down (read earlier posts if you care for the details). Nothing has changed regarding my stance with my in-laws and everyone in my family was content with not exchanging gifts. We did anyway but gave out modest lists & told them they didn't have to put themselves in a financial bind to get us gifts. We also didn't spend a fortune on those we did get gifts for since we do have bills to pay ourselves & again, I'm not a present whore.

In fact, I'm just not all that materialistic. I care much more about how someone treats me day to day than if they get me a Christmas or birthday gift.

Know what really pisses me off? When you tell someone not to get you a gift & then they do it anyway. It's usually not someone who just wants to get a gift & has no expectation of a return gift but instead a greedhead who's just trying to extort presents from you when you never asked for shit from them. Conventional wisdom says do NOT get someone a gift if you expect one in return or you expect the person to spend the same amount on you. In my case, you'd definitely better not do that b/c if you violate "no gifts" with me I'm not spending my money getting you something just b/c you got me something. If you're going to get pissed off b/c you got me a gift I never asked for & then I don't reciprocate, you might as well save that money & pay your bills or get that new shirt you've been eying.

My husband is apparently a typical man, according to Cracked. I read this article not long ago & #3 definitely applies to him when getting a gift from someone he never expected one from or who isn't on the list of people he knows + regards well enough to go get a decent gift for.

It's one thing to reciprocate in business or for your landlord. We have a decent landlord & in NYC, there's that whole nasty tipping culture (especially during the holidays). If I knew what kind of cookies his family liked, I'd made those since I'm a damn good cook & people rave over my cooking. I also have some great recipes & would be super happy if I could try out something I've not done before or I couldn't feasibly have for me and my husband. If not cookies, I'm sure there is some other Christmas appropriate dish I could make. I saw a recipe for a creme brulee treat with egg nog on this carton of egg nog my husband got for me that I plan to save & hope to make sometime for myself.

I feel like the problems come in with relatives. Outside my immediate family, mine have never really exchanged gifts & I just don't care about getting or giving them when someone isn't a fixture in my life, isn't someone I'd take my problems to or anyone who seems to care all that much about my personal happiness/emotional state.

I say if you're going to spend your money on gifts, it should be on gifts for people you honestly care about & who you want to get for.

Do you think someone who you can't be honest with or who only makes an effort on special occasions is someone who should be on the gift giving list? If you don't know their tastes & preferences or could ask them for a list of what they want without them getting pissed off, what is the point? I feel like some of these people giving me unsolicited gifts impose this ridiculous obligation of reciprocation & expect me to spend the same amount of money on them (which I feel is a total waste of money that could be used for better things like living expenses). Or maybe it's just my husband being a typical guy & acting that way toward his relatives.

I outright said "no gifts" to my husband since I despise this political crap & hate the obligation imposed on me when I've had things going on. Plus, there's the whole not being materialistic, not needing all that much & the fact that if you can't give based on the recipient's preferences/tastes, why bother at all? I don't buy gifts based on pushing my personal agenda; I buy for what I think my recipient will like. Gifts from me involve time & effort; within my family, some of them are staples of long standing tradition (particularly my mom's Star Trek ornament, which I've gotten for her every single year since working retail in high school).

My husband said he was going to get a gift for my family after opening our Christmas box today. I told him "don't you dare" since they said not to do that & he'd just be imposing this obligation on them (I'd told my mother she didn't need to spend a lot on us since I know they've got financial strife of their own to deal with, especially with my father gone). He claims he's doing it anyway but when I spoke to my mother today, she told me not to do that & I relayed the message. Don't know if he got it but I asked him how he felt when he told someone not to get him a gift & they do it anyway. I asked whether he feels that's disrespectful to him since I think it's totally disrespectful to me when you ignore my wishes & feel his doing that would impose the same obligation on them when they already have economic issues to contend with.

He told me he's used to people ignoring his wishes. I think that's sad & no one should have to get used to that.

So if you want to show me you care, show it in your actions the rest of the year. I learned a lot about who is a friend or not by who was emotionally present, who was encouraging, supportive, tried making me feel better, offering kind words, gave me some empathy and generally giving me proof that not everyone on the planet is an asshole. It would have been totally unnecessary for any of them to get me a Christmas gift since they already gave me the gift of being a real friend, not some acquaintance I have to put on a happy face for.

I'm just done with putting on shows & politics in general for my personal life. We have to do enough of that shit in our business lives so why are we doing that at home & in families? Try having close family die when you're younger like me & see how eager you are to engage in that nonsense afterwards. I keep making new contacts by the day (since people with drive never sleep or stand still) & don't have time for it in my friendship circle either. I've had enough fake friends in my life & I will surely get more of them; that comes from having my former friend of 20+ years doing a total personality 180.

Quality, not quantity. That's where my head space is. Toxicity also has no place in this life I've been fortunate enough to get to keep living. Have had a ton of time to do lots of heavy thinking & self-realization. I also keep finding out more people I know are going through major life changes. In particular, I learned about 2 people who recently got divorced or are in that process after being married for 20+ years (one contact got served divorce papers yesterday; I pointed out that since he's also creative, he should definitely turn to that since some of the greatest works out there came from someone being in a major crisis or severe life trauma; I guess one bright side is that my writing should be better than ever & my creative well is so much more full than the average person's).

If that doesn't tell you life isn't static, I'm not sure what does. My latest Twitter follower is also someone who is chronicling the experience of getting a divorce from a psychotic ex. Interpret that as you wish.

So when you're giving someone a gift when they say don't do it, you're not being nice. You're being an asshole if you're doing that expecting a gift in return from the person (which 90% of humanity seems to be in my experience). Let me repeat this: when I say "don't get me a gift" and we have no further discussion on this, DON'T GET ME A FUCKING GIFT!!!!!! There is no hidden meaning or secret message with me. I have no time for martyr crap or mind games; what I say is what I mean. Yes, I realize I may be one of the only women who says what she means & perhaps that partially explains why I'm still getting hit on all the time.

If you give me an unexpected gift & then say "You don't have to get me anything so don't feel obligated to do it" while showing me that in your actions, we'll be fine. If you truly mean it, that's okay. What I don't appreciate is people buying you a gift to fish for one out of you. That's extortion & it's completely out of the spirit of Christmas.

I also don't want a gift you only gave me out of obligation, not because you really cared. It's not my job or anyone else's in life to assuage your personal guilt or sense of duty. Please spare me. It's more political nonsense I don't need or want in my private life. Oh, and you're totally piling on this year.

With that mindset, do you see why a person might be pissed at you for springing unexpected gifts expecting something in return? Don't you dare be the asshole doing that to others, especially to those dealing with the grief process! It won't be appreciated.

Stuff like this is just one example of a married person problem that makes me long for my single days. Thankfully, my immediate family has some maturity on this or I'd also long to be completely isolated from the human race.

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