Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen
mrissa

What Counts

mackatlaw made a comment on my last entry that got me thinking, and what I came up with is this: it really is the thought that counts with presents. Some people use this to mean, "don't complain about crappy presents." I don't think that's what it means.

If your friend thinks, "I'll mass-produce a bunch of pink tie-dyed T-shirts and have gifts for everyone without much effort or cost," this is not a very high-quality thought if she doesn't also stop to think, "Oh, wait, she hates both pink and tie-dye." It doesn't become a good gift just because it's handmade. It doesn't become a good gift if she goes out and buys couture pink tie-dye for $300 a pop.

If your friend thinks, "She admired the stationery I handmade, but she likes blue better than pink and stars better than martini glasses, so I'll change things around a bit for her," that is thoughtful. If she thinks, "she really coveted my copy of that book," it doesn't become less thoughtful for being store-bought. It doesn't become less thoughtful if she gets it used for a quarter.

And if your friend thinks, "Oh, crap, I have to get another random piece of crud for her this year," that's no fun for anybody. Don't do that to your friends. Don't put them in a position where presents are joyless obligations. Allow them to feel comfortable enough with you to say, "You know, I'd really prefer not to do gifts this year." Do not even require them to say why, because it doesn't matter if it's the money or the time or that they don't know what to get you and won't have any fun figuring it out or what. Gifts should make at least two people happy, and it isn't always a matter of "keeping a good attitude" or some guilt-trip chipper nonsense like that. Not everybody has to exchange presents. It's okay, or it should be.

(I actually hate admonitions to keep a good attitude. To me, they mostly say, "If you're not enjoying this, it's your own fault." Which sometimes is true, but often it isn't. Not enjoying something is punishment enough without being chided on top of it.)
Tags: holiday cheer and thumping, social fail
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