Tuesday, December 16, 2014

how do you resist the borg?


every year, i bristle at the tyranny of the gift list in denmark and every year, i swallow and succumb to it. they're like the borg*. and i've even become so assimilated that i passed along my child's gift list, including a bunch of links, to my sister in the states. much to her quite understandable dismay. the child, now a teenager, is hard to buy for and only likes very specific things. so that's why i passed along the list this year. but i'll admit that i hate it. with a passion. and i feel i should be raising her better than that. and i'm disappointed in myself for sending the list. i think i'm pretty much completely failing as a parent because of this.

i hate as well that i've been given a gift list for our nephews (not my sister's children) and i've gone out dutifully, if grudgingly, and purchased the desired items. and i didn't enjoy it. and i won't enjoy giving those gifts. because it's just a sterile transaction, it didn't require any thought on my part and it didn't require that i knew anything about them, nor will it evoke any delight in me to watch them open the item from their list. there's no surprise or moment of excitement on either side of the transaction. it's just that, a transaction. and i have to say that i think it really sucks. it's hollow and consumerist and well, lame. and every year i vow i won't do it.  and yet here i am once again, going through the expected motions. cultural norms are hard to resist. and i am apparently far too weak in the face of them.

actual meaningful gift which i made for my dad last year for christmas.
i imagine mom is snuggled up under it right now and that makes me happy.
but i realize that this gift thing isn't about me. it's about the receiver. but i have to wonder if they really appreciate just automatically getting the things they asked for. where is the delight? the surprise? the joy? i suspect it's absent on their side as well. case in point? i made the blanket above for my dad for christmas last year and he loved it. and it was not something he asked for. but it was perfect for him and it was handmade, so score all around.

but back to the tyranny of the danish gift list...now that christmas doesn't really mean what it once meant, but is just a consumerist holiday and we are living in a society that equates needs and wants and just buys whatever we think we need when we need it, rather than waiting to receive things as gifts, do we really need this gift charade?

i've said previously that i'd much rather stumble across something in the course of the year and give it to the person in question, out of the blue. but do i act on that? no, i haven't. but maybe i should start. maybe 2015 will be when i start.

*star trek: the next generation reference. get it or get over it.

3 comments:

Susan Dougill said...

There is positives to both. My son makes his over the year so he can't remember everything on it. This means that it's still a surprise but he gets something he would want. I have a family member that insists getting me a surprise every year. The only problem is she buys what she would like for Christmas. This means instead of dainty I get big and chunky which isn't me. If not I get animal print clothing that I would never wear. She used to buy me perfume for every present even though I can't use it. In the end I had to be tough and tell her not to buy me anymore. She wastes her money every year. I'm easy to buy for but she won't buy anything I like. This year she has rung me asking my clothes size so I am dreading Christmas Day.

will said...

I agree with you, giving want-lists is lame - it's unimaginative, lazy and as exciting as filling a car's gas tank.

Here in the US, Thanksgiving has been almost obliterated by the commercial run-up to Christmas ...

and we've morphed holiday gift giving into a complex ritual, often measured in shopping cart volume and not in joyous simplicity.

Spilling Ink said...

I had forgotten about that very Scandinavian thing of writing the gift lists. Nowadays I enjoy the reckless abandon of shopping for gifts that will be a complete surprise for the receiver, and my daughter and I have even talked about the repression of having to buy gifts at Christmas when it would be so much more of a surprise if you just did it any time.