To Gift or to Present? That is the Question.

Christmas. The time of the year where everyone receives presents and spends money from the money tree. Some say it’s a religious holiday, others say it’s a marketing spin concocted by the greedy corporations of America. Why do we celebrate Christmas? Why do we give presents? Maybe we just can’t stand up to Christmas giving peer pressure. I mean no one wants to be associated with The Grinch.

As a child, I remember trying to sleep through the excitement of opening presents the next morning. My family was not rich, but we always seemed to have plenty of presents. Dolls with curly blonde hair, boxes of cars with racetracks, and the ugly Christmas sweater created the foundation of wrapping paper chaos that grew in the living room. Looking back, I can remember the happiness clouded by financial stress that graced the faces of my parents. In my teens, I remember my parents arguing over credit card debt and figuring out their monthly bill demands. Now I understand that parents want to give their kids presents on Christmas, but when is enough, enough? Should you get into debt for a short-lived Christmas present thrill?

With the passing years, I find myself trying to get rid of my accumulation of stuff that has overtaken my attic. Christmas presents that I would never use rest in boxes hidden in the sidewall storage, along with boxes of never-ending Christmas decorations. I finally donated my 11-year-old plastic Christmas tree that was missing one of the stand legs. Don’t worry; I also donated the phone book that helped to prop it up.

The most interesting present I ever received is a glass holographic paperweight that encases a rose with the words I Love You made out of tulle. But wait, that’s not all, the paperweight sits on a spinning light foundation that projects the tulle message in the air. To date, I have used it once, but only to see what it actually is supposed to do. Who knows, maybe it will make a cool 70’s disco dance party light.

Of course, we have the Christmas List. If it was not Santa who invented the Christmas List, it must have been a person who kept receiving interesting gifts such as the previously mentioned tulle paperweight. I just don’t understand the whole Christmas List concept. You make a list of things you want that you can’t afford for yourself.  Yet, you expect other people to buy you the things you want. Why should someone buy you a present just because you want it? Do you deserve a present just for being related and because society expects it?

I am really not a Grinch, but I prefer experiences to receiving more stuff. I always feel awkward when someone asks me what I want for Christmas. I just want some good food, good times with family and friends, and maybe a slice of pumpkin pie. I love the Christmas dinners, the day off from work, and well, even giving gifts. I know; I am not helping my case here. To my defense, I give gifts, not presents. I have always defined gifts as giving voluntarily and without expectation. I never expect a present in return. While presents, are presented for a particular occasion with some expectation of reciprocal present giving. Come on, if you buy your sister a present for her birthday, don’t deny that you are expecting a gift from her on your birthday. Santa Claus is the ultimate gift giver, though I am sure he appreciates the presents of cookies and milk.

Why do you celebrate Christmas? Are you a gift giver or a present giver?

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