I feel much the same way about gratuitous gifts. Everyone has acquaintances with whom you have exchanged gifts. There comes a time when the relationship has changed, either by moving away or moving on. When that happens and the gifts are more of a burden, then it's time to stop the exchange. One of our relatives sent us Hickory Farms packages for several years. What's the problem with that? We lived in Wisconsin at the time, home of some of the best and freshest cheese around.
The best Christmas gifts are those that clearly indicate that the person knows you and has selected a gift that is right for you. So it is with one of my best friends. When she last visited us, she thoroughly enjoyed watching my husband suddenly rise from his seat and fly out the door to attack a squirrel with his super-duper water gun. Yes, my husband hates those beady-eyed little monsters as much as I do.
When her Christmas package arrived yesterday, she had included a perfect gift for my husband.
Although my friend indicated that my husband need not wear it, he will. In fact, he will wear it to Wild Birds Unlimited to pick up another "squirrel proof" bird feeder. It gets pretty chilly running out on the deck in the midst of winter. And of course he cannot take time to close the door or the squirrel will be gone.
When will we learn to stop exchanging gifts when it becomes a chore rather than a pleasure? I can assure you with confidence that my friend had almost as much fun sending this gift as my husband did in receiving it. And that is how it should be.
[Totally unrelated note: If you are a fan of NPRs "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," or a fan of Neil Gaiman you need to turn to BBC America Friday night at 8:00 pm (EST). The show will be televised with Neil Gaiman as the special guest.]