Help me unpack some of my weirdness around giving gifts.
July 11, 2014 2:11 PM Subscribe
So I love giving gifts and, if I've committed to 'Giving Someone A Gift' instead of just 'Checking off the Box' I tend to put a lot of time and energy into them. However I've noticed that my pleasure in giving gifts is directly tied to how the recipient responds. MeFis, teach me to give unconditionally.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto to Human Relations (21 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I take a lot of joy in being creative and finding something that someone would like that they hadn't known about before, and/or had wanted but hadn't thought possible (i.e. a special kind of beer only available certain types of the year).
If the recipient looks pleased, says thank you and mentions it later, I feel really happy and warm about the gift for long, long afterward -- win! But if the recipient doesn't take a moment to acknowledge the gift, and/or say they appreciate it, I can feel regret for giving the gift at all and feel stupid for putting so much time/energy into it. For example, a while ago I shopped extensively for a young family member and sent her a gift for his birthday that was specifically suited to her. I never heard a thank you either from her or her parents - and when I asked to talk with her on the phone about it I was told that she was busy and didn't want to talk. This made me regret having spent the time and money on the gift and I still feel embarrassed for having spent so much effort on the gift.
And another example is a church group I'm part of - I put time and effort into ordering a custom decoration to be used during the group meetings that other members had expressed a need for, but when I brought it to the group, it was put in a corner, unused - it turned out that the group members had been complaining just to make conversation and it wasn't really something that was wanted. Now I wish I had never taken the initiative to find and give the gift - I was happier in the group before I'd felt unappreciated.
My parents were polar opposites about giving gifts -- my dad, who grew up poor, was a penny-pincher who thought any sort of non-essential gift was a waste of money and didn't give Christmas or birthday gifts to anyone. My mom [who also grew up poor] compensated by showering us with an embarrassment of gifts throughout the year. So I think I'm pulled in two opposite ways around gifts -- if the person responds with delight, I feel justified in having given it. But if I don't get a happy response, my dad's worldview of "gifts are wasteful and stupid, why waste your time on something someone won't use or need" kicks in.
As we move into Gift Giving Season (Christmas/Hanukkah/holiday parties) I'd like some advice on how to give gifts in a healthy, happy way. How can I keep the joy of being creative/making a happy experience for the recipient, while avoiding dashed hopes if I hear nothing or a 'meh' back?
[And yes, if you look at my question history I definitely asked about DIY gifts last week...]