Choosing a gift is...well, a gift
Rob Peters | December 25, 2007 at 10:11 amby
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Last year around this time I wrote a column about the perils of Christmas gift giving between romantic partners. At the time I was only a few months into a new relationship, and I reasoned that because the "I love you" bomb wasn't yet on the table, Christmas gifting was high stakes and high anxiety.
Now, a year later, the "I love you" bomb is both on the table and detonated, and the relationship is in full bloom. I'm sensing the stakes are higher this year not because of an expectation of more expensive gifts, but because I should actually know my girlfriend by now.
An impersonal gift last year was somewhat excusable. Knowing this, I went for the carpet bomb approach -- a multi-gift hybrid. The thinking was that if I bought some stuff, made some stuff, and rolled it all together, I was bound to get at least one thing right.
This year I don't know what the hell I'm doing. A bunch of crappy gifts somewhere near the mark but not quite there just isn't going to cut it.
What's worse is that I know Jackie is preparing something big. She's had a month off school and goes shopping all the time. I've even been finding traces of wrapping paper and scotch tape on the floor when I get home from work. Knowing her, she's probably making me a homemade t-shirt with hand-stitched entwined lovers on the front, with our initials in gold sparkles.
While the kid in me is secretly overjoyed, the adult in me knows I'm screwed. My gifts to her last year -- most notably a vial of communist breath spray and a pop-out musical Here comes Santa Claus card -- were "cute" and "quirky." This year they'd be a slap in the face.
Unfortunately Jackie's got all the hallmarks of a stellar gift-giver. She's thoughtful, creative, intuitive, and generous. I, on the other hand, should really be lumped in with the worst group of gift-givers on the planet -- fathers. Actually, grandfathers are worse, but they're allowed to be because of dementia.
It's almost a universal truth that men with families don't give proper gifts. It's like once they're married, there's no need to compete. My dad thinks a batch of cinnamon buns is a silver anniversary present.
The point is that thoughtful, creative people need to think about the bigger picture. And the bigger picture is that not everyone is a do-it-yourself love poet with crochet skills. Going for the occasional box of Quality Street chocolates isn't copping out -- it's an act of compassionate charity for the rest of us. And that's really what Forrest Gump meant -- not that life is a box of chocolates, but that life is about knowing when to give a box of chocolates.
So to all the perfect little elves out there, busily crafting thoughtful mix cds, homemade baking cornucopias, and hand-carved stools or whatever it is you people do, stop it. Go out right now and buy a handful of Zellers gift certificates like the rest of us.
Because meaningless token gifts are what make people feel comfortable. And that's what Christmas ought to be -- a firelit night in flannel pajamas sucking back a box of Quality Streets with your loved one.
Rob Peters, Richmond News
Published: Tuesday, December 25, 2007
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