Friday, November 9, 2012

On Gift Giving

I've mentioned before that one of my primary love languages is gifts, but the truth is I have a really complicated relationship with it. Okay the real truth is that I over think everything in my life and this post is an example of that, but bear with me.

Christmas and birthdays are like my favorite times of the year because you get to spoil the people you love and it's expected. Spontaneous gifts are less comfortable, you never know if someone will think it's an intrusion or odd, but these are the days when you get to celebrate people just as much as you want.

In the past, I've treated Christmas in a very extravagant fashion. It's behavior I'm a little bit ashamed of now, but at the time I loved it, spoiling my nieces and getting things for people that I felt like they wouldn't get for themselves but would still like to have? And of course, finding the perfect gift--that one gift that would really communicate to someone that I knew and loved them was always the ultimate goal.

A couple of years ago around Christmas, a couple of churches started this thing called the Advent Conspiracy. It was basically about cutting down on consumerism at Christmas time and focusing more on giving to others in need. There's a whole bunch of stuff that goes with it that you can check out on their website, but I remember reading an account from one woman (I'd look for it but the site design gives me a headache) about how our gift giving isn't always about others but it's also about ourselves. We take pride in finding the perfect gift, we think it's fun to shop for others etc. And I recognized a little bit of myself in the realization that extravagant gift giving isn't always helpful, people have little space--they don't always need more junk. Even if it's fun for me, it might not end up being that helpful for others. And of course the pride in giving the perfect gift. (on a related note it's like how I can't wait for people to get stuff once I've mailed it or I always want everyone to open my presents first on Christmas Day! :))

Anyway, I recently zipped through Parks and Recreation Season 4 and there's an episode at Christmas where Leslie gives everyone the perfect thoughtful gift and so they all decide to do something for her in turn. I wanted to find a clip or gif, but it proved impossible! It's the usual good stuff of Parks and Rec, but at the end Leslie says she sees gift giving like a sport that she always wins. (but not that year, etc.) Anyway, it made me think about all of this stuff again, so...this post!

This year I don't have a lot of extra money and I will probably also not be seeing any of my family except for my parents on Christmas. I'm kind of...really bummed about it, but it is what it is. I'm just poor right now, end of story. But..I still want to give good gifts. It's part of who I am. And so I was thinking about Advent Conspiracy and their admonishment to give more relational gifts...experiences for example, and how much I really love that idea. The only problem is that it requires even more thought than ever.

Okay so some examples would be tickets to a sports game, a DVD to watch together (with popcorn), or something handmade (which is like giving a part of yourself), etc. Obviously each gift should be tailored to the person you're giving it to, like the year I got my dad tickets to a football game. (I wouldn't get that for my mom, etc)

When I was thinking about this, I thought it might be kind of fun to host a carnival where everyone shares their ideas for meaningful gifts. It could be any format--a list of ideas, sharing a story about a successful gift you gave in the past like this, a recipe, a craft, etc. The main focus would just be to provide ideas so that other people can also brainstorm. Would anyone be interested in this? I know it seems like kind of a weird thing for me to host on my mostly books and TV blog, but I think it could be fun.'s been so long since I've done anything like this that I just don't know if anyone would participate! The saddest thing in all of the world would be for me to do this and have no one participate :( So...would anyone be interested? I'm thinking I'd like to do it next week, maybe Friday? So that we have time to think about these ideas before Thanksgiving hits.

Let me know what you think! Also, huge thanks to Hannah who knew EXACTLY what I was talking about when I frantically asked her "do you remember that thing churches were doing at Christmas?" She's a lifesaver!


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