Saturday, 27 December 2014

Gifting, regifting and guilt

I noted an article on 3 News about New Zealanders selling their "presents that missed the mark", which I thought was refreshing.

Christmas, as well as a time for coming together, tends to be our major time for giving gifts. The act of giving to another - giving without attachment to the outcome - is the main point: what the gift is is not the important thing.

We may buy for others with the best of intentions, but none of us get it right all the time. A Kiwi band, Hogsnort Rupert, released a song called "Aunty Alice" in the 70s about terrible and inexplicable gifts from an aged relative which no one could fathom, which my family used to sing lustily along to.

My view is that our intention is to give pleasure to another, and it really is the thought that counts. I would be horrified if my gift became an albatross for another: something that they felt they had to keep because it had been given to them, and that they had an "Aunty Alice" cupboard full of unwanted things. 

Once a gift is given I feel the recipient is free to do what they will with it. I have been asked "How would you feel if your gift was given away?!" and I say "It's theirs: its now their choice".

Providing a burdensome possession was never my intention in giving. We have so much already in our privileged lives: we don't need to keep unnecessary things as well. Hogsnort Rupert's song's ridiculousness - and catchiness - helped me break free of my own albatross mentality. I kept an "Aunty Alice" cupboard for a while but a series of moves saw me give away and regift things: and I caught the habit. I keep a recycle box. While I would be unlikely to sell a gift, I see nothing wrong with doing so.

But how would I feel if someone else gave away something I had been given them? Just fine. My family has a $6 Christmas: you are not allowed to spend any more than $6 on anyone, and regifting is encouraged. Christmas presents are intended to be fun, and may in fact become perpetual challenge presents, like a tiger-striped slinky we gifted around and played with - as adults - year after year.

What I do see as wrong is the weight some feel in having to keep a gift forever. We should not be gifting guilt.



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