Have you ever received a Christmas gift you didn’t want? Idiot mittens from grandma. A subscription to the deodorant-of-the-month club. Membership to the “We Fix Fat People” gym and spa. Yes, we’ve all received bad gifts.
But do you remember what it felt like? Burdened. Insulted. Irritated. Disturbed. All are candidates. Naturally, however, you smiled and said, “Thank You” while you secretly considered how to dispose of the new curse you’d acquired. And, of course, if someone gives you a bad gift once, next year’s gift is preambled with a nice holiday dose of anxiety to boot.
So if that’s how you felt when receiving a bad gift, why would you want to risk being such an anti-blessing to someone else? If you love them, you surely wouldn’t. We all want to be the sort of person who gives the gifts people can’t wait to open and are thrilled to receive. If so, why does this process go so wrong with such regularity?
1. We live in America.
In the United States of America, the vast majority of us have enough money to buy pretty much anything we want. If I want a shirt, I buy it. If I want a DVD player, I buy it. And if I want a new CD, I buy it. In short, anything someone might give me that I would actually want, I already own. So in buying a gift for me, someone should ask himself a simple question: “Why doesn’t he already have it?” There are three possibilities.
One, I’ve never thought of it. This is obviously a good reason to buy it for me, and quickly, before I think of it myself. Two, I can’t afford it or don’t think it’s worth the price. This may seem like a fine reason, but such gifts then burden me with the obligation to be equally wasteful on you in return. That’s rarely a blessing. But the third and primary reason a gift recipient doesn’t already have this something is pretty obvious: he doesn’t actually want it. Clearly, such gifts really aren’t. But wait, there’s more.
2. Some people are picky.
I can’t buy gifts for my wife. Not because I’m bad at buying gifts, but because she is extremely particular. The good news is she doesn’t care whether I buy a gift for her. She is unusual in that she is perfectly happy for me to tell her to go buy what she wants for herself, and I get the credit. Other people have the unfortunate disease of being picky and also desiring gifts. I’d love to tell you that I have a solution for such people, but I don’t. However, I do have a thought.