Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gratuitous Cards and Gifts

I can understand when circumstances preclude sending Christmas cards.  We sent none in 2009.  And I suppose it would be fine to send ecards if a person is otherwise not able to mail cards.  But this year I have received several ecards from people I know to be perfectly able to sign and address cards.  They always get caught by my spam blocker and I simply hit "silently discard."  Am I being unreasonable?  Perhaps so.  Except in rare circumstances I believe people should decide whether or not to send cards.  And if they decide to send cards they should send real cards.

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.]


Rudee said...

I don't give gratuitous gifts. My siblings and I no longer exchange gifts, but if the spirit moves me, I will still buy them something special. Knowing my brother in law orders pork products from a Texas smokehouse when he is in the States at Christmas (he lives in the Middle East), I sent them bread products from a rather famous Ann Arbor, MI bakery. This year, I bought my Uper loving brother (a chef), a Michigan cookie cutter that includes the mitten, and the U.P. It isn't much--a token, really--but it's definitely the thought that counts.

On the cards? Meh. Sometimes I send them and sometimes I don't. This year, I just sent them to certain friends I see all year long.

LoieJ said...

I only get a few e-christmas letters and I appreciate them. But my husband doesn't see them because he's not going to look at my email. I was on dial up until just a year ago, at at that time, I wasn't about to forward an e-letter to him on that slow system, which would be a slow upload and download.

But What I didn't care for this year was the e-greeting that came by way of a facebook message addressed to a number of people at once. I didn't even respond. But the sender is one who never did more than sign a real card anyway, so I guess it is all the same, and she saved postage.

Boondocks Love Shack Pack said...

We just do gifts for our children and we indeed have as much fun choosing them as they do receiving them! I imagine it's how God feels each time He blesses us!!

Merry Christmas!

Boondocks & The Love Shack Pack
(and the Mom person)

Taradharma said...

I couldn't agree more. It is ESPECIALLY time to stop giving gifts when you become extremely miffed that they are not acknowledged at all.

My siblings and parents, we've stop the gift giving. We spend our money on a lavish Christmas dinner cooked at home. The nieces and nephews are on their own after 21.

A gift given out of obligation is a sucky way to give (and receive) something. Now, that T-shirt, that's a whole 'nuther ballgame. It's fantastic!

Arkansas Patti said...

I think only kids should get gifts for Christmas. If I saw a shirt like that and knew your husband, I would get it and give it to him with out an occasion.That's just me.
Thanks about Wait Wait. I listen to the recorded shows on their site since I dont' get NPR broadcasts here.

Busy Bee Suz said...

We stopped with all the gift giving a few years ago and it was SUCH a relief. I DO love finding the perfect gift for someone on the rare occasion and your friend nailed it!! I wish we had video of him jumping out of his chair and out the door!!!

Lindsay helps with a dance class two nights a week at one of our county parks. i get there early to pick her up and read while sitting in my car. At this particular park there is an abundance of squirrels. I am talking colonies! ANd they are NOT shy. I can't even leave my window cracked for air cause I am scared they will COME into my car looking for something yummy, such as my face.
So, where does one get the squirrel water squirter?

KB said...

I love the gift that your best friend got for your husband!!!!!! I'm laughing and laughing...

I actually like e-cards. I don't send them but I enjoy them when I receive them. I don't mean to be contrarian... I just thought that I'd speak for the other side.

As for gratuitous gifts, I couldn't agree more!!!!

George said...

I totally agree with you about both the cards and the gifts. Over the years we have cut down on the number of cards we send out, but we do send real snail-mail cards. Gift exchanges are also mostly a thing of the past, although when something perfect catches my eye -- such as the tee shirt your husband got -- I'll get it, even if it won't be for a holiday.

Andrea said...

This is a lovely post, and sweet too for your friend who sent the shirt. Gift giving might be so different in not so materialistically privileged society like ours. I confess, i cannot buy gifts for my family and friends this year, but i am sure they understand.

I have a more privileged friend i met just in a meditation class, 4 of us stick together, and we're now in our 14th yr together as friends. Because she is the endowed one, she always call us for the Christmas get together. She sent her driver to fetch and bring us back to our homes. We eat, talk and share the past year's happenings. She gives us and our immediate kin or kids, things we might need or be happy of. The 3 of us just give whatever we can afford because she already has everything. But we give our love, gratitude, best wishes and positive energies to here. These are not forged at all! May you be fully blessed as well.

Ms. A said...

I love giving gifts, but hate shopping for them! Plus, nowadays... anything my kids or grandkids want, they already have it. Sure makes it hard to come up with any ideas.

Ginnie said...

I love the T shirt. It's always fun to get those gifts that have a lot of thought behind them.
As to getting ecards. I received one and it was from a VERY shy young man in our AA group. I thought it was sweet that he reached out like that because it would have been very hard for him to express himself on paper.

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

I feel pretty much as you do about e-cards. I've made it a rule never to open them. That may be a generational thing, but they are a great way to infect your computer with a virus, also. We, too, have cut back our gift list. Jim

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Rudee - You do know, don't you, that Wisconsin really want to annex the U.P.

PS - I agree. I actually stopped exchanging cards with someone who would send us photocards of her grandchildren without even bothering to sign them much less write a note.

Boondocks Mom Person - Your children get so much more than gifts. They get the gifts of love and attention.

Tara - Now that's a good way to have a great time.

Suz - You are one brave soul. Those squirrels in large numbers would freak me out.

KB - I know other people who love ecards. They spend as much time selecting one as they would buying the right card.

Andrea - Thank you. If you give love, gratitude, best wishes and positive energies then you are giving priceless gifts. What a nice group.

Ginnie - I hadn't thought about the fact that ecards might be easier for shy people.

Anonymous said...

If he is whispering, "Get the heck out of our yard!" and it works, let me know. I'll buy a shirt of my own.

Love it!

Dawn Fine said...

Howdee..a little late to this post. Let me add something about the e cards. I no longer send cards. I personally find that most people look at them then throw them away. I feel they are a waste of I send ecards..i try and personalize each one. Ecards can be beautiful and fun.

I think it is wrong not to open an ecard sent by someone...any gift is worth opening.