Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Defense of Gift-Giving

'Tis the season of commercials, newspaper ads, coupons, giveaways, deals, and door-busters. While some people are planning their perfect Thanksgiving meal for Thursday - everyone else is planning their battle plan for Black Friday.

I think most of us can agree that Black Friday has gone out of hand. Example? My sister works at Victoria's Secret. The location where she works has it's own Pink store. (Yes, a separate Pink store. Her location is MASSIVE AND AWESOME.) A couple years ago on Black Friday when they opened their doors at midnight, hoards of girls stormed through to get their hands on the sales. A few moments later the store had to be evacuated because one of the workers was trampled.

She was eight months pregnant.

Yeah. A woman in her third trimester got trampled.

Now, I don't think this has happened at this location since and everyone has learned their lessons. At least at this store. So please no Victoria's Secret/Pink bashing, okay?

We can still agree- it's gotten out of hand. With all of the commercialism of getting the best gift and being sure everything is perfect for the holidays, it can make anyone want to give up all together. Which is sad, because Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) isn't about that.

Yet... I still like it.

Christmas, of course, but gift giving too. I genuinely like searching for presents for my friends and family. I enjoy thinking about what they want or need or what will make them smile. I don't have a ton of money (I work at a church... I have a decent paycheck and I'm grateful for it, but I also don't have wads of cash to throw around everywhere.) so I don't have a whole lot of opportunities to randomly buy things for people. Especially when there are so many other ways I can show people I care about them. I can do that through quality time, helping them out, babysitting their kids, going to a movie meeting them for coffee, sending a thoughtful note, etc.

But when I actually have the excuse to get something awesome for someone I care about - I like to take it.

Gifts can mean a lot. Sitting on my desk at work, there's a small crystal key-chain. It was a gift from a good friend of mine who spent a semester in Hungary and got me a little souvenir. It's nothing big, expensive, or special. However, I also know this friend HATES spending money. I mean - REALLY hates spending money. So the fact that they decided to spend money and got me something while they were away is special.

Also on my desk, is a booklet of Doctor Who sticky notes. (Thought Regenerators to be specific.) Nothing big. Nothing special. But it was a small gift from someone in my congregation who knows I love Doctor Who and when they saw it they thought of me. Because of that, it's special.

A few years ago, my dad got my mom a necklace for Christmas. It wasn't outrageously expensive, but it did have a few small diamonds. My mom cried when she opened the box. She hadn't gotten a really nice piece of jewelry in a long time and the fact that my dad went out of his way to get it meant something. It was special.

There's something really awesome about being able to pick out something for someone you love and seeing their face when they receive it. Because it's an act of love.

It's when the gift-giving becomes stressful, an obligation, and a competition when it becomes a problem. We get caught up in wanting whatever we give to be the biggest and the best or the most expensive. (Or at least appear expensive because you actually got it a million percent off on Black Friday.) It's when we use presents as a way to show off and be all "See? I'm the best because I got you the best gift." That's a problem.

But using gifts as a way to express and share love with others because you genuinely care about them? I see nothing wrong with that.

I know not everyone feels the same way, and that's 100% okay. I've heard of people giving up giving presents all together. Or donating to good causes instead of buying presents. Or buying experiences vs. physical gifts. Those are all awesome things because they're each a unique expression of how people share their love this time of year.

So yes, I will probably go out on Black Friday. Not with all of the crazy people trampling each other at midnight or on Thanksgiving night as many stores are doing now. But later in the afternoon when things have calmed down, yeah, I'll probably be there. My sister and I have actually talked about researching some of the deals so we can go in on some gifts and shop together while I'm in town over Thanksgiving.

Because in a way - giving something to someone you care about is another form of giving thanks, and that's the whole point of the turkey on Thursday, right?

Glossy Blonde


  1. I love buying gifts for people too, and finding the perfect one! But I agree, when it becomes a competition, the whole meaning is thrown away. I'm not going out on Black Friday (last time I went, years ago, I was thrown into a pile of shoes! Haha) Cyber Monday is way more my style.

  2. there are times i buy things for people because it reminds me of them. i bought my friend a bunch of funny post-its for her office and it only cost me 30 cents but it was awesome!

    Vodka and Soda

  3. ah that is so crazy someone got trampled - ugh! I like finding meaningful gifts for people too but don't want to go overboard either. I just started watching doctor who and am loooooving it!
    -- jackie @ jade and oak

  4. Wow. I loved this post. Amazing amazing. I agree with what you're saying 100%. I hate the fact that Christmas has become so commercial and all about buying the most expensive gifts. I just wish people wanted to spend more time with their family, curled on the couch, drinking hot chocolate and watching a movie. I live in Canada and there are some stores that insist on having Black Friday sales as well. I don't understand this! Our Thanksgiving celebration is in October and having Black Friday just to keep up with the States is too much. Anyway, beautiful post. Thanks.

  5. I love giving and receiving presents. I'll never understand NOT giving them, however I also think everyone has the right to celebrate how they want, of course! No one should ever feel bad for how they celebrate (well, minus people who go literally crazy and hurt others, geez!) I love that you posted this. I think a gift: a memory, something hand-made, or something purchased, is sweet. I love having special gifts. Like my Valentine's Day ring from Jen, and my new gaming mouse she bought me, etc. I love giving gifts. Watching as people open their gifts, and see the light in their eyes while doing so. I go out of my way to make sure I get a gift that *hopefully* will make them cry, and if we have the money, that they can use often and have fun with. Sometimes it's been hand-made, like I said. Other times, like for a birthday of mine, Jen and I went to our local zoo - which was a gift in itself!

  6. YES! Every time people complain about the commercialization of a holiday, I try to explain that it's not about "pressure to buy a gift," it's about having the excuse/opportunity to show someone how much I care (the "feel X way every day of the yea" is a nice thought- but I am not perfect and life gets away from me sometimes).


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