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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » feelings on not exchanging gifts

   
Author Topic: feelings on not exchanging gifts
RivalOfTheRose
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next year I was thinking of telling everyone I know to please don't get me anything and I wont be getting them anything either. I personally don't really get any joy from opening presents. I guess I enjoy the actual product, but don't get any satisfaction from the getting of the gift. I don't get why people want to give me things, it doesn't make sense.

i get easily frustrated by the hassle and inconvenience for shopping for many people, many of whom I just feel obliged to get them something. also, many people are hard to shop for.

the only person I would enjoy shopping for is my wife, but we share all finances so nothing would be a real surprise.

all this being said, what is something in the 40 to 80ish range I could get my mom? normally I just get her about 50 bucks in movie gift cards, but that seems lame every year and just lame in itself.

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scifibum
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You're not going to be able to opt out of the gift giving tradition without some awkwardness.

We have no idea what you mom likes or does, so...my suggestion is that you get her some unusually colored stemware.

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ambyr
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I wish I could opt out entirely, but it would make people who love me sad, because the ritualized exchange is important to them. At least I've cut it down to the essentials: my parents and my partners. Everyone else knows I don't expect a gift, and knows not to expect one from me. (Of course sometimes I happen to find the perfect something and give it to a friend or relative anyway. I enjoy that. I just don't like obligatory gift-giving.)
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Orincoro
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My friends and family are fully aware that I live on a very small amount of money, which is not in dollars. Nobody expects anything from me except a phone call.

As for my friends over here, gift-giving is not a big thing in this country, and because many of my friends are foreigners from different traditions, nobody expects anything. Couldn't be easier- I'm very happy not to have celebrated Christmas in the states in years. It's an awful holiday in my opinion.

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mr_porteiro_head
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I don't think there's anything wrong with opting out of giving gifts to others, but I think it would be pretty rude refuse gifts from others, to deny others the opportunity to give to you if they want to.

[ December 14, 2010, 11:48 PM: Message edited by: mr_porteiro_head ]

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Lisa
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Present Face
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AchillesHeel
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Every year my relatives ask me what they should get me and I tell them to not worry, because I am an adult and afford myself those things that I actually want. No one aside from my brother really understands my interests and I would rather not get nonsensical gifts, for instance last year my grandmother got me an electric shaver when I have never had enough facial hair to constitute even a moustache. They get worse every year, I appreciate the intent but see no point in gifts that the person will not like or use, this year I got my brother a Niel Gaiman's Sandman statue from the 90's because it made sense to him.

Slight tangeant, is it really necessary to buy under-wear and linens for an adult? last year I recieved towels and knee high socks both from my grandmother, apperantly she doesnt think that I can procure hygiene essentials on my own.

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katharina
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quote:
posted December 14, 2010 11:21 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
next year I was thinking of telling everyone I know to please don't get me anything and I wont be getting them anything either. I personally don't really get any joy from opening presents. I guess I enjoy the actual product, but don't get any satisfaction from the getting of the gift. I don't get why people want to give me things, it doesn't make sense.

i get easily frustrated by the hassle and inconvenience for shopping for many people, many of whom I just feel obliged to get them something. also, many people are hard to shop for.

the only person I would enjoy shopping for is my wife, but we share all finances so nothing would be a real surprise.

all this being said, what is something in the 40 to 80ish range I could get my mom? normally I just get her about 50 bucks in movie gift cards, but that seems lame every year and just lame in itself.

Is there cold weather where she is? Ann Taylor has cashmere scarf and gloves set every year for about $50 on sale that seems to be a hit with moms.

Or, a statement necklace from Ann Taylor loft - about $40. Those are stylish and a little new, so she probably doesn't have one.

Opal earrings. She almost certainly doesn't already have some, and you can get them in cool colors. Try Macys or Amazon, if there is shipping time.

Subscription to a magazine, depending on interests: Real Simple, Oprah (lots of moms love it), The Atlantic, Entertainment Weekly, Runner's World, some cooking magazine. Buy December's issue and insert a note saying she will get a new issue every month for a year.

Small, framed piece of original art. I don't know where you live, so I don't know where'd you get it, but if you're around a university or art school at all, you can get something small and pretty for your price range.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
last year I recieved towels and knee high socks both from my grandmother, apperantly she doesnt think that I can procure hygiene essentials on my own.
Or maybe she thought that everybody uses socks and towels, so at the very least this was something she could give to you that would be appreciated a little.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I don't think there's anything wrong with opting out of giving gifts to others, but I think it would be pretty rude refuse gifts from others, to deny others the opportunity to give to you if they want to.

This man speaks the truth. My gift giving is certainly not tied to whether or not the giftee reciprocates.
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katharina
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Having said that, stretching to get presents for everyone and then have them not even acknowledged, and having to watch everyone else give presents to each other and leave you out is a BUMMER. Have that happen a couple years in a row and I promise it's a bit less fun to shop for people who clearly don't give a crap about you.


------

I now give gifts when I damn well feel like it. The recipients are random depending on the year, if I'm inspired, and if I like them at that moment, and I never take requests.

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mr_porteiro_head
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Awesome.
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scholarette
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I have to admit, I am kinda annoyed at not giving gifts. We moved far away from family and still flew home for christmas. Despite the fact that our income qualified us for govt air, we paid for airline tickets and then spent time making baked goods and other cheap presents for everyone- like days and days. We did this for several years and then my brother in law moved out of state. So, my mother in law announced that since people had to fly to visit, there would be no present exchange anymore and being there was present enough or should be. My brother in law immediately agreed. I was so annoyed because in the past years when we said we were poor and spending tons of money on plane tickets, we were told that cheap homemade presents would of course be acceptable. So, I was pretty annoyed when the present giving ended. Also, the fact that my mother in law didn't travel anywhere, we stayed elsewhere and yet she felt like she was good on present giving cause she showed up at her own house.

This year I am irked with my mother in law because she just isn't doing Christmas this year. She has 2 granddaughters and for a gift to them she said charge her credit card $10 and put her name on something. Any less than that and you are doing nothing. Honestly, I would have been happy with gift donated in their name to charity so it isn't really about the gift (I actually think that would be cool). It is the complete lack of thought. We took more time and money on our toys for tots kid (and she has better finances than us).

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katharina
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What is govt air?
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scholarette
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I meant aid. I don't remember what percent poverty line we were but phone and electric paid for.

typing and breastfeeding don't really go together.

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advice for robots
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I think coming up with presents is incredibly stressful. I never look forward to Christmas because of it. My wife and I both come from large families and even when one or another family settles on a limited gift exchange scheme, we're still stuck trying to think of way too many presents for everyone. There's very little joy in it all, like I guess there should be. Every year I try to think of awesome homemade gifts that actually might mean something, and every year in late November I give up. Some day I'm going to get it down.
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katharina
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Oh, that makes sense. I was wondering if there was some sort of discounted airline ticket thing, and I would SO have wanted that at a few points in my life.

---

afr, I asked my dad once what his favorite holiday was. The response: "Arbor Day. You get to plant a tree and nobody expects a present." I think you have company.

However, irritatingly, my dad doesn't like it if you tell him exactly what you want, either. That's because his preferred method of Christmas shopping is to leave it all up to my stepmother, which is supremely irritating to me. On the other hand, getting a check just sucks - it goes in the general pot, and I feel like one of his vendors. But that's the deal - if I'm going to fly across the country for Christmas, he has to get me a present.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
I was wondering if there was some sort of discounted airline ticket thing

I was assuming that's what it was, but for military personnel. There are sites that specialize in that sort of thing.
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dabbler
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I asked my sibs this year (there are three of us and some significant others) if we could cut out our exchange. I suggested we each buy something for ourselves we'd have liked and count that. Im not sure how they feel about it but they agreed. There's a niece and nephew now so there's somewhere to still put all that present energy.
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Darth_Mauve
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Why gift giving and receiving is so important:

It is one of the few true rituals left in our modern society, and by participating in it, you reinforce your membership in that society.

Gift giving is not the product of our modern capitalist state, but goes back to the earliest recorded history. Every culture recorded has rituals of gift giving and receiving. They are just behind death rituals, marriage rituals, and feasting rituals in their universality.

If you look at gift receiving in a purely economic light, yes it is easier to get what you want where you want it, and when you want it. That is not the goal of a gift exchange.

What a gift exchange does is try to be a concrete physical representation of the relationship between the giver and the receiver.

The perfect gift is one, when the giver sees it, thinks its perfect for the receiver, and when the receiver opens it, thinks this could only have come from the giver.

We rarely find or receive the perfect gift.

But I've found another reason, besides the sociological ones. It is the chance for blessed chaos to enter my tightly controlled universe.

If you only get the things you want, watch the shows you like, read the books you enjoy, and think the thoughts that you think best, how will you ever learn? How will you ever find new likes?

You say that you are tired of receiving bad gifts. I have never had a bad gift. I've had gifts that opened up new possibilities, new understandings, and yes--whole new paths for my life to wander. Not all these gifts have turned out as powerful, or as useful. But the fact that I receive them with an open mind, see how they might fit into my life, and at least try them--allows me to gain experiences I never would have had before.

Sure the tie my son gave me clashed with everything I owned. Yet maybe that means I should get some clothes that are a bit brighter, that won't clash, and see how they look on me. Sure that CD of Incan Flute Music put me to sleep with its haunting monotony. Now I have a non-addictive sleep aid.

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Fyfe
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I guess I am in the minority when I say that I absolutely love presents. I love getting presents, I love giving presents, I love plotting with people about what presents they're going to get someone else, I love watching people unwrap presents. At times it can be stressful to try and pick out the perfect thing -- my father, in particular, is hard to shop for -- and I know that the presents I do get for people are not always a home run. But when they are, it is one of the best feelings ever.
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Swampjedi
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I'd be more okay with the ritual if my family limited it to homemade gifts. As it is, we've been exchanging gift cards for way too long.

I've become very anti-Christmas (the secular holiday) over the past few years. My family is way too grabby for people who ought to know better.

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AchillesHeel
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
last year I recieved towels and knee high socks both from my grandmother, apperantly she doesnt think that I can procure hygiene essentials on my own.
Or maybe she thought that everybody uses socks and towels, so at the very least this was something she could give to you that would be appreciated a little.
Yeah, but not everyone uses knee-high socks. I mean bobby socks, really really high. Im in my early twenties and live in the desert. Why would that ever make sense.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Fyfe:
I guess I am in the minority when I say that I absolutely love presents. I love getting presents, I love giving presents, I love plotting with people about what presents they're going to get someone else, I love watching people unwrap presents. At times it can be stressful to try and pick out the perfect thing -- my father, in particular, is hard to shop for -- and I know that the presents I do get for people are not always a home run. But when they are, it is one of the best feelings ever.

You are not alone, I also love the thrill of giving someone a gift that they cherish and I feel loved and cared for when some one gives me a gift. For me, the price of the gift is irrelevant. I'm actually happier with wildflowers my husband picked for me than a $100 bouquet he ordered. I'm happier with a handmade scarf, than an expensive designer fashion item. To me, it really is the thought that counts and I prefer gifts that show thoughtfulness over those that cost lots of money.

I understand that many people hate feeling pressured to spend more money than they can afford on Christmas presents or are stressed by the pressure to shop for hard to please people. I even sort of understand those who would rather buy something of their choosing than be given a gift that isn't perfect, although I think they are missing the whole point of giving. Mostly I'm irked that the true spirit of gift giving has been sullied by those who see Christmas as an opportunity improve the bottom line and increase GDP.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by AchillesHeel:
Yeah, but not everyone uses knee-high socks. I mean bobby socks, really really high. Im in my early twenties and live in the desert. Why would that ever make sense.

Which is it, knee-high socks or bobby socks. Bobby socks are ankle high.

Fashion never makes sense. Clearly your Grandma has no understanding of current sock fashions for young men in their twenties. So what. She got you something she thought anybody could use. That was sweet of her even if she missed the mark.

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AchillesHeel
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Sorry, for some reason I thought bobby socks were the high ones.

I mentioned earlier that I do appreciate that she considered me at all let alone enough to buy me a present, but that wasnt my point.

Why buy an adult who obviously takes care of themselves things related to essential hygiene and linens when you know that they do it themselves accordingly? a gift shouldnt be AA batteries scratchers and 25$ Walmart cards they should be a consideration for the person in question, something they would enjoy or maybe that they need but cannot afford themself.

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Strider
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I'm an adult who is reasonably successful at taking care of himself. I don't tend to buy much new clothing though, mostly for ethical reasons. I get a lot of my clothing either at thrift shops or vintage stores. But these are not prime locations for purchasing socks or boxers. And because I try to shop locally, I'm not normally in the vicinity of places that sell boxers and socks. Had someone bought me socks, it'd actually be really appreciated! Same thing with with other things related to essential hygiene and linens. So I don't think it's that crazy of a gesture.

In fact, my favorite presents are simple things like that that are difficult to 'get wrong', or things I don't need at all. If it's something I need, and I care about the details, I'll just go out and get it myself.

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CT
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I'm glad for other people to exchange gifts at ritually signified times when it makes them happy. That's great! I'm also glad to duck such events when I can, because the understanding of how important it is to other people to watch my face makes it practically impossible for me to have a natural response. Automatically it becomes weirdly robotic, although I do my best to say the right things and have a big smile. I'm exhausted almost immediately, the disappointment of others is palpable, and it just doesn't go well.

I think if it didn't matter so much to other people, I would enjoy it more. But it does, and they matter to me, so I will continue to give it my very best every time I am involved. I'm in the middle of my life, though, and I don't seem to be getting the knack of it any better. I do try, and I will keep trying creatively. Also will keep ducking it when I can without giving offense.

(Having moved to a country where none of my family lives helps.)

---
Edited to add: It's a form of performance anxiety, I think. This reminds me so much of going to the dentist and presenting my teeth: I cannot close my mouth normally (being aware of trying to close it "normally" makes it go all weird), and I cannot control my tongue anymore (in my trying to keep it out of the way, it goes into exactly the wrong place). It's not that I have anything against dentistry in particular, and I'm certainly glad when other people are able to close their mouths naturally or keep their tongues out of the way.

[ December 16, 2010, 11:47 AM: Message edited by: CT ]

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CT
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Hey! Who wants to be my Secret Santa? Or dentist? With a personal ad like that ...

[Wink]

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flyby
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My dad opted out of the gift-giving game a long time ago. He only gives presents for weddings, and then on the rare occasion that he finds a good gift, and will just do it for no purpose.

I never really intentionally meant to opt out of gift-giving. I like to give gifts, and am pretty good at thinking of what to get other people if I try to think of it. I also like the excuse to do gifts, but usually just for one or two people per holiday.

I am out of the country for this Christmas, and so right before I left, my sister and her family invited me over to dinner, and to give me gifts. They were just small silly things, and my niece wrote me a book, and that was cute. But then my one niece felt bad, because she had not gotten me anything. My sister pointed out to her, "You know what Jennie really likes from you? She loves a Prairie hug or your snuggles." So then she came and sat on my lap and snuggled with me. And it really is the present I remember the best.

I like to focus more on making people feel special than particularly giving them gifts. Sometimes that entails a gift, sometimes that entails doing something else. But it's always been easy for me to opt out, just because my dad does, so I don't feel any obligation to give gifts if I don't want to, or feel so inclined.

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RivalOfTheRose
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Update:

I got my mom a lame jewelery box with picture frames on the top.... complete with Kohls gift receipt... done and done.

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AvidReader
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quote:
Originally posted by AchillesHeel:
Why buy an adult who obviously takes care of themselves things related to essential hygiene and linens when you know that they do it themselves accordingly?

I love that my mother-in-law always gets us socks and underwear for Christmas. I'm a champion sock-loser and it annoys me to go out and spend good money on something I know I've got in the house...somewhere.

I've never disliked getting presents, and I LOVE opening them. But I'm definitely enjoying Christmas even more this year with half of what I'm giving being home made jewelry. If I start earlier next year, I might be able to do all home made presents.

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RivalOfTheRose
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Further Update:

I am returning the picture box. I found a personalized wine box at Walmart.com. Going wrap it up with a bottle of their favorite wine inside and a movie gift card.

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ketchupqueen
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My grandma got us towels last Christmas. They were REALLY NICE towels. We were moving into a house with one bathroom more than we'd had before. We hadn't asked for towels and I was a bit surprised at them, but we were very grateful and you know what? Those towels have had use every day for a year, which can't be said of any other gift I was given last year, including the ones I asked for.
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The Rabbit
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I generally like to get socks for Christmas. Socks wear out faster than anything I own and so I always need new socks. (well not so much now that I'm in the tropics and wear sandals most of the time, but this is a typical).
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Noemon
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quote:
Originally posted by CT:
Edited to add: It's a form of performance anxiety, I think. This reminds me so much of going to the dentist and presenting my teeth: I cannot close my mouth normally (being aware of trying to close it "normally" makes it go all weird), and I cannot control my tongue anymore (in my trying to keep it out of the way, it goes into exactly the wrong place). It's not that I have anything against dentistry in particular, and I'm certainly glad when other people are able to close their mouths naturally or keep their tongues out of the way. [/QB]

While I don't have this with regard to gifts, I can relate to the dentist part. When I'm asked to close my mouth normally, with my teeth hitting each other where they normally do, I pretty much lose the ability to do so. For me it's just a question of making what is normally an automatic, almost reflexive action into a conscious one. It stops me every time. I've actually thought myself into not being able to walk before. I just had to stand there until I was able to distract myself from the process of moving muscles and shifting balance and begin walking again.

As for gift giving, I like it. I enjoy receiving gifts, but if I had to choose between the giving and the receiving, I'd much rather give. It's not really for the reaction, though--I just enjoy giving people that I care about things that I think that they'd like to have.

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CT
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Noemon, I think my childhood training had some part to play in all of this. Rituals and appearances were very important in my extended family, and we had large Christmas get-togethers for which I was coached in advance: the exact phrases to say, to always be aware that someone could be taking pictures (and to arrange my face appropriately). When I was 7, I had 147 first and second cousins, and most of them attended the major get-togethers at my grandfather's home.

My mother was anxious about making a good impression and, I am sure, socializing us so that we didn't feel embarrassed but rather that we fit in. (There was a great deal of social staus and wealth disparity in the extended family, and we were at the thin edge of the wedge.) But being naturally introverted and generally anxious to please, it was just too much. I think if I had grown up in a smaller family, or with different expectations or a different temperment, it might well be different now. But, you know, pros and cons. [Smile]

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advice for robots
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I love a gift receipt. With it, you can give someone something to unwrap and also the power to get something they actually want. I'm doing that for my sister's family. Got them a board game at WalMart with a gift receipt. There's a WalMart in the town they live in. It's the perfect gift. [Smile]
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Tatiana
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I'm with Fyfe. I love to give and receive gifts. If I'm very poor I give what I can afford. It might just be some homemade goody or some candy. If I have money that year I tend to try to buy people things they'll go ooh and ahh over. I especially love to buy people electronics and other cool gadgets. I also like to buy toys for the grown siblings. Think Geek has lots of cool cubicle toys that work well for this. Sometimes a gift just reminds me of the person and so I get it for them and they love it. It's so great when that happens, but most of the time I'm shooting in the dark somewhat. My family tend to buy themselves everything they really want. So that leaves things they don't know exist yet, and things they wouldn't think to buy for themselves but they would actually enjoy. I hope I get those kind of things most of the time.

As for me, I like most anything. I love gifts!

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katharina
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My assumption is that someone got me a present because they thought I would like it, thought carefully about it, and did it out of heartfelt emotion. I am actually kind of offended by gift cards, unless it is for a specific item which they have picked out and there are logistical reasons for the gift card instead of the item. Also, I expect that if I get something mechanical, it works. If it doesn't work, then the gift giver takes care of it until it does. I love presents that show the person giving it thought about me. I hate generic presents, and money is icky.

Conversely, in giving presents, I think about them carefully, consider the recipient, and do it out of love instead of obligaton. I would be really hurt if someone returned it for something else. If they don't love it, then I would expect them to fake it. They can regift or whatever, but I absolutely don't want to know about it. If it is the wrong size, let me know and I will return it, but it's never the wrong size because obtaining the correct size is part of the planning.

This is only possible because I don't do obligation presents and I don't do last-minute gifts - if I can't find the perfect thing, I don't give anything at all or I give it late. For times when it is imperative I give something, I start thinking about it months ahead of time. The gift-giving list is short, but my presents are generally awesome. And rare.

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