Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends out in cyberspace. This time of year always reminds me of why I’m an ardent capitalist wishing I was less of a consumer. If religion wasn’t bad enough, we need to give ourselves one time of year when we have to give gifts to everyone we love. Well, we don’t have to, but for many close relatives and friends, if they give you a gift you kind of have to return the favor.
I remember that one year in middle school when I was determined that buying people gifts would make them like me (oh, have I mentioned I was the odd kid out always?) I had a few close friends, but mostly all my friends and acquaintances blurred and I found it extremely difficult to determine who would get a pair of earrings from me and who wouldn’t. So I had a long list of all the people who A) I was friends with, B) Who were nice to me and C) who I wanted to be friends with and who weren’t total assholes to me. And all of them got gifts. I can’t believe my mom let me do that. Each gift was on the cheap side, but regardless I didn’t need to get gifts for half of the school chorus. It didn’t change what they thought of me.
Nowadays, I am a lot more realistic on the giving end. My family doesn’t really exchange gifts except one cousins gift exchange which I’ve opted out of this year. My parents don’t get me gifts ever (even for my birthday) unless I buy myself something and request to be reimbursed. And I don’t buy my parents anything either usually… for their birthday, Hanukkah, or any holiday — mostly because they have so much and I have no idea what to buy them. My mom always says she wants jewelery but anything you get her she’ll have something negative to say about it. I have no idea what to get for my dad. What do you get a man who’s dying of cancer? Well, I’d like to get him a trip to Italy, but even for me that’s an expensive gift to buy someone who may not be able to go… he has to be around for his doctors appointments.
I usually buy my boyfriend something in the $100 range. Last year I didn’t get him a Christmas gift but then I got him a $550 birthday gift (guitar) so that was more or less his Christmas and birthday gift. Unlike buying gifts for my family, I like to buy gifts for my boyfriend because he’s always appreciative. I usually get him something he’s hinted at that he wants, but this year I got him something that he hasn’t asked for… even so, I know he’ll be thankful for whatever I give him regardless of the cost or what it is. He’s a good guy like that.
When I have kids, I want to make sure they understand that gifts should always be appreciated. Also, I don’t know how much gift giving we’ll do in the family. Gifting is a waste of money to some degree, unless you buy something useful. But how many kids love to get socks for Hanukkah or Christmas every year? Toys are the biggest waste of all. If anything I’d gift my kids something that would spark their creativity, or books, or an extracurricular activity. I guess there are some toys that are worth while, but the last time I walked into a Toys ‘r Us I felt incredibly dirty looking at the prices of toys these days. Who pays that much for junk? Lots of people.
I don’t even remember what I got for the holidays growing up except a few items… a beautiful amethyst and marquisette bracelet from my grandmother, money towards a keyboard from my aunt, and, well, that’s about all I remember.
What makes a good gift to a friend or family member for the holidays? How about for a child? And what was your favorite gift that you received growing up?