So it's that time of year when I find myself in the semi-awkward position of explaining to family and friends (yet again) that I don't do the exchanging presents thing. People seem okay with this concept on birthdays and anniversaries and I hardly get any pushback on President's Day, but something about Christmas seems to set them off.
It's not that I give no gifts. I diligently ask my nieces and nephews what they want for Christmas, trudge out to the store (okay, okay, so I make Blair go), buy the gifts, wrap them in bright holiday paper with bows and ribbons and hand them over with a smile that oozes good cheer. (Although I will say I am PSYCHED that almost all of my neices and nephews are now of an age where they not only don't mind receiving cash as a gift, they prefer it. God bless the Hallmark moneyholder card, my new holiday best friend.)
Blair and I don't exchange gifts and I don't buy gifts for family members, including mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, etc. Since my family long ago came to terms with my bah-humbug gift giving persona, I forget that others out there are unaware of it.
I went to a small holiday party yesterday for a local writer's group I belong to. Everyone except me brought gifts. They were small things--bookmarks, key chains, and one woman baked date bread for us all, but they were gifts. I just brought my sunny personality.
Awkward? I won't lie. Yes, a little.
But I'm sticking to my guns on this. One of my (many) issues is, where does it end? My groups of friends are loosely woven and interconnected. If I buy gifts for friends A, B, and C, but not D and E and D and E find out, will their feelings be hurt? Will they think I think of them as lesser friends? And what's the price limit? Am I supposed to buy for spouses and the children of my friends as well? It's just this big tidal wave of token gifts that I would just as soon do without.
I used to feel really bad about accepting gifts from people when I didn't reciprocate but I've come to terms with that over the years. Some people truly enjoy giving gifts, and I appreciate that. I mean they like thinking about their friends, putting some thought into what might please that person or make them smile, or maybe remembering something the person mentioned in July that would surprise them to receive now. I find this an admirable quality, one I wished I possessed. Even if I did give gifts, I'm a horrible gift giver. I wait until the last minute and just grab something and it has no personal meaning.
My favorite gifts to receive are unexpected ones. The one someone hands you on May 12th, a Tuesday, just because they saw something somewhere that reminded them of you and made them smile. One of the best gifts I ever received was from my friend Nicole who went to a book signing to Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor, author, and Nobel Peace Prize winner. She was standing in line and thinking, "Who else would appreciate this?" and remembered how much reading I do on the Holocaust. I almost dropped to the floor when I saw my name signed in Wiesel's hand. LOVE IT. My friend Kay is also a fantastic gift giver--one of those people who stores info away and then surprises you later. When I was planning a book called "Kiss My Kitty Butt," she gave me a runner visor with "KMKB" stiched on it. Precious.
Those are the types of gifts I want to give. I'm not great about it just yet, but I am working on it.
So if you give me a gift this year, please know I truly appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. I love that you thought of me and took the time and care to select something for me. I want to do the same for you.
I'm just hoping to do it more sometime in June.