As I’ve alluded to previously, I don’t really do Christmas presents. Or decorating, or baking, or really anything else Christmas-y. Nothing against the holiday origins or the concept of spending time with loved ones, but Christmas has kind of turned into an orgy of buying and consumption that I don’t feel like joining.
Now, I’m not completely hardcore about it. We still always get a gift for my husband’s grandmother, since I’m not going to try to convince a 90 year old of anything she doesn’t already believe or deprive her of something that she loves. I was promoted to a management position this year, and remembered last week that I should get a little present for the people who report to me. I always give a cash bonus to the women who clean my house biweekly, and I make sure that one is generous (considering the usual state of our house, they deserve it). Finally, as I’ve written, I increase my charitable giving this time of year as well.
In all of these examples, there is no expectation that I’m going to get something in return, and I prefer it that way. First of all, generosity with the expectation of reciprocity isn’t real. I can’t count the times I’ve seen people pissed off or hurt because they spent ‘hours’ finding the perfect gift for someone else, and didn’t get something equivalent in return. If you feel that you want to show your love/support/whatever for someone by buying them something, than getting something back shouldn’t factor in. Plus there’s the question of whether getting someone a gift ONLY because of a certain date or holiday really means anything. Would you get that person a present if it wasn’t Christmas and (since it would be unexpected) there was no chance of a present back? If not, then your present doesn’t mean squat.
The practice of giving Christmas presents only serves to get people to buy a lot of stuff that no one needs. As an economic stimulus, that’s great, I guess. I get about as excited about it as I would the thought of a new tax. Yes, in theory I support building roads, libraries, hospitals, etc, but I’d selfishly still rather keep my money if I had a choice.
My family gave up buying Christmas presents 10 years ago for the simple reason that we got too big. At first it seemed weird and selfish, but everyone agreed it was a huge relief. When my husband and I were first together we exchanged gifts, but when we got to the point of total honesty we both confessed we’d rather not bother. It took a few years, but we finally convinced his family to do the same. I only need so many kitchen knickknacks and cookbooks!
I’m not against giving in general, obviously, but giving for no reason than because it’s expected is ridiculous. There are other ways to show you care about someone, and enforcing the idea that proof of affection requires gifts is crass.