Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Joy Of Giving

I ain't gonna lie, I very much enjoy receiving (insert your own joke here), but I really do equally -- in a very different way -- giving gifts. I get a warm, glowy feeling from getting people something fun and different that I know they'll like. I'm a sucker for the "Wow!" you always hope to get when presenting a gift to someone you like well enough to spend money on.

This can be a lot of work, however; gift cards may be boring and impersonal, but they're certainly easy. I spend hours thinking about what to get people, making lists, searching the Internet, and, as is my wont, agonizing on the decision of what to actually buy. It's really not easy stopping myself from getting everyone ten different gifts. I often find several things I like, or I find something after I've already bought one gift, and go, "Oh, that'd be great for XYZ! They'd love that!" Because I'm totally indecisive, I'll get all of them instead of sticking with just the one or two things I'd decided on, so as to both increase the pleasure I give the receiver, and to avoid the my fretting that I should have gotten the other that can literally keep me up at night. I work hard to control myself, since such generosity is rather expensive, but I don't always succeed. Thankfully, this year I actually have an income, so I can afford to be a bit indulgent.

I do have to confess to a more selfish part of me, a little miser in my head totting up the bill of what I've spent and comparing it to what they spent on me. If they match, all is well; if I spent more on them than they did on me, he feels both superior and aggrieve. If they spent more on me than I them, though, my usual guilt-complexes kick in. And there is not a small bit of self-satisfaction at giving people good gifts, a sense of pride that I'm just that damn awesome and can make people feel that good. For the most part, however, my motivations really are pure: I want the world to be happy, and giving gifts is one way of contributing to that. I can't deny, however, that those two other things, as small and selfish and twisted and, frankly, just not that pretty as they are, exist and are a part of me. Honesty, especially with oneself, is one of the most important things in life, I believe.

But all that self-criticism doesn't really matter, does it? All that matters is the smile on the face of a loved one when they open a package and find the love you feel symbolized within. Is it crass and materialistic and commercial that we equate love with things? Maybe, especially when carried to extremes. But symbols are important, too.

No comments: