I’ve talked a lot about how much I hate the expectations surrounding gift giving on holidays, so it’s easy for someone like me to get down all all forms of gifting during the holiday season. The consumerism of Christmas is infectious, and it’s easy to forget about a different kind of gift giving: the spontaneous gifts that come from the heart. They’re the gifts you give someone just because. Because you saw it and instantly knew they would love it. Because they’d mentioned a few times that they wanted a particular item and you felt like doing something special for them.
I was reminded of how beautiful the act of giving can be on Facebook of all places. I saw a post from a friend of a friend (Facebook privacy fail!). She wrote that her cat knocked her slow cooker off the counter top, shattering it. So she and her husband went to the store to buy a new slow cooker. While she was comparing prices, trying to find the best deal, her husband said, “Don’t skimp, get the one you want.” To her, those words meant, “I adore you.”
Maybe it’s just because I understand how amazing slow cookers are, but even I, with my strong dislike of gifts, melted a little when I read the post. Or maybe it’s because I can relate to this woman, who was searching for the best deal, rather than looking for the one she really wanted. Her husband recognized that her slow cooker was very important to her, and gave her permission to forget about price for a moment, permission she wouldn’t give herself. She picked out the slow cooker she wanted, and her husband bought it for her.
Sometimes we can get so focused on frugality that we lose sight of the little things that are important to us. When you’re trying to save every extra penny, you question whether you really need things like a nice slow cooker, when the cheap one would probably work just as well. It’s really helpful to have someone in your life who recognizes when you’re sacrificing silly things and makes sure you get to enjoy the little pleasures like a nice slow cooker.
So although I absolutely hate all the consumerism surrounding Christmas and the expectation to buy gifts for people that will wind up collecting dust, I need to take time to remember that not all gifts are bad. Some gifts are a way of telling a loved one to stop worrying about pinching pennies on something she really wants. They are a way of saying, “I know you’d never buy this for yourself, but you want to have it badly, so I’ll get it for you.”
I live a mile from two malls, so once Black Friday hits and traffic becomes abysmal for the next month, I will try to keep in mind that some people are using the occasion to buy a truly special gift for someone who will cherish it. If I don’t remind myself of this, I may go crazy with anti-consumerism/road rage.
Recent Carnival Mentions
“Where You Buy Matters” featured in Yakezie Carnival, hosted by iHeartBudgets
“Is the World Ending?” featured in Carnival of Investing, hosted by Investeem
“Demographics Affect Your Benefits” featured in Carnival of Personal Finance, hosted by Sweating the Big Stuff