The Lost Art of Gift Giving

I went to a wedding on the weekend. It was a beautiful wedding. Very simple and elegant.

As I arrived, I lugged a huge box from the boot of my car into the foyer of the venue. It was a gift that I had spent hours the previous day trudging up and down the stores at my local shopping centre trying to find. I agonised over many objects until I finally settled on something I thought right for the couple.

I chose a vintage drink dispenser; a large glass jar with a little silver tap that you can place beverages in when entertaining. I thought it would suit as they are a couple with young children. He also dabbles in brewing. In my mind, it was the type of item that you would not normally buy yourself but is nice to have. The type of item that I think is the perfect gift. It is useful to their needs but not so practical that they would have already purchased it themselves (or having two  would not be a problem).

When I got home I agonised over wrapping my gift. Not wanting it to break, I carefully placed it in a cardboard box and taped it up first. I then searched high and low for wrapping paper. Not finding any, I settled on brown paper and neatly wrapped the box. To decorate, I tied white ribbon, lace and a string of beads.

As I entered the foyer I approached the gift table. The invitation had not specified any gifts. There was no registry to follow or requests for cash. Yet when I got to the table (and I was running late so the rest of the gifts were already there) it was starkly obvious that I was the only person that had gone for a traditional gift. There were two or three small boxes on the table and my large box stuck in the middle of the table. To the side of the table was a large glass jar marked “cards”. This was full. Everyone, except for me had given cash.

Now I am not opposed to giving cash necessarily… ok… I am a little. When I say I am not opposed, I mean that I understand that life is expensive. These days most couples live with each other before they get married and have already got a toaster, blender and the rest of the household appliances that they need. What they need is cash.

But it still doesn’t sit well with me. When did gifts suddenly need to be practical? Who decided that you can’t just give frivolous objects that people might simply like?

I have this argument with my mother every Christmas. She has decided to cut back on the amount she spends on my children. Her argument is that they get so much stuff at Christmas time that they really don’t need more. Instead, she has opted to buy a small gift and put the money she saves into a bank account for them for when they are older.

I think the bank account is a nice idea and appreciate what she is trying to do.

What gets up my nose is the fact that Christmas has a value on it. Although I appreciate her actions, I find it unnecessary. Who decided that a certain amount needs to be spent on each person? Why is it that gift giving has become about a dollar value and not about the joy of trying to find something that the receiver might like? Why can’t children get heaps of useless crap at Christmas time? It’s something I just don’t understand.

I feel that we have lost the meaning of gift giving. For me, giving a gift was about the simple act of trying to understand someone else’s likes and choosing or making something that would bring them joy and happiness. I relish in the delight on a child’s face when they open a box a find a toy they haven’t seen before.

When someone opens a card and pulls out a $50 note, says thanks and shoves it in their pocket I feel that we have taken away some of that magic. All this focus on practicality and dollar values seems to have stripped the pleasure of gift giving.

Maybe I am just being old-fashioned or reading too much into it but I love gifts that are outside of my comfort zone. I love when people buy me things that I would never have thought to buy myself. It helps me to be adventurous and experience the world. There are things I have been given that I would never in a million years of thought to buy with my money (or given money).

What are your thoughts? Is this a lost art or do I just need to get with the times?

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Happy Thursday!

My partner came home last night with a bunch of flowers. He presented them to me and said “Happy Wednesday!”

My birthday was on Monday and he didn’t bring me flowers then (although I was very spoilt all day long in many other ways). When he gave me the flowers I thought it was such a lovely gesture. It meant that I got to be appreciated for no other reason then it was today.

Earlier yesterday I was reading Rarasaur’s post about 11/12/13. You can read it here. When I read this post I was thinking just how special every day is. The flowers and my partners reason for giving them confirmed this even more.

So I wanted to share the feeling and remind you only live every day once and they are all as special as each other in some way. So,

Happy Thursday Everyone!

 

Why Do I Care?

I have found myself wondering a lot lately what other people think of me. I worry that they won’t like my work or the way I behaved on my days out. I worry that they won’t like me for who I am, or worse, that they don’t know who I am. Most of all, I worry that people think I am stupid or not good enough.

But why do I care so much? My logic side tells me that if people don’t like me, so what? They are no better or worse than me and it shouldn’t matter what they think. If they don’t want to be my friends or like my work, it shouldn’t matter. There are others who will.

But I do care. I can’t help myself. I don’t know why.

Breaking into Song: A Soundtrack to My Life

Sometimes I wish that my life was a musical and people on the street would break into song and a choreographed dance routine at random moments in my life. I have images of random people leaping forward in matching attire and suddenly moving in time to my personal soundtrack.

There are times I feel dreamy and I can hear the music playing in the background. Around me, I imagine ballerinas in white tutus twirling about gracefully. The music floats on the air. Something like Laura by Bat for Lashes plays. It starts to rain as I walk down the street. Graceful ballerinas are jumping on park benches at bus stops, the rain dripping down their faces.

Other days I feel happy. I imagine a cute and quirky song playing, like 1, 2, 3, 4 by Feist. Girls in brightly coloured 1950s style dresses start to dance happily. They are accompanied by guys in suits that match their dresses. As I wait in the queue at the supermarket, someone cartwheels in front of us. All the check-out registers click in time. As the bells ding, the lights above the registers go on.

Some days I it needs to be cheesier. I want Abba’s Dancing Queen. As I enter a bar, glitter falls from the ceiling. Everyone is dressed in lycra and covered in sequins. A mirror ball spins from the roof. Arms are flying high in the air and the room is full of electricity. Someone puts a tiara on me and I am lifted to a podium in the middle of the room.

Then there are days when things aren’t going my way. My partner and I are arguing at the café. Suddenly Pat Benetar‘s Love is a Battlefield is playing. All the girls in the establishment get up and start pointing fingers and shimmying their shoulders at the men. 1980s prom dressesand lace gloves are essential.

Then there are my romantic and playful days. I can hear Imelda May‘s Inside Out plays. I am suddenly dressed in a sleek black wiggle dress, with bright red lipstick and a great rockabilly hairdo (sudden costume changes are nothing extraordinary in musicals). Men in black suits click their fingers as I prance playfully to the beat.

As you can tell, my life’s soundtrack is a little cheesy. I like all kinds of music but when I am imagining people breaking out into choreographed routines, it is usually to pop songs. I would love for it to happen one day.