On the thought process of gifting.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

The altruistic act of giving someone a gift is usually one that should be one for the benefit of the giftee and not the gifter yet how often do people genuinely think of the giftee?  My family especially have a knack of buying what they want the giftee to have or indeed what they think the giftee should have as opposed to what the giftee actually wants.  That's not to say their heart isn't in the right place, the very fact of giving itself is indeed charitable and honorable yet it is possible to be selfish within a none selfish act.

Take for instance a birthday many years ago, I was visiting Camden for the first time, I was young and gothy and my brother very kindly gave me £50 to spend on myself.  This was incredibly unexpected and undoubtedly generous.  Until the rules came.  He gave me an extended list on what I wasn't allowed to spend it on, which basically included anything and everything I'd actually ever want.  By the end of it, there was no fun in the gift anymore, what at first had been an exhilarating chance to go shopping was now a situation where I didn't even want to look for anything to buy.

So you may think well surely if there is so much you don't wish someone to buy for themselves, why give money and not just an actual gift?  Only he's done this too, usually his old expensive electronic gadgets that he's upgraded which although incredibly generous are often things I neither need nor ever actually want yet it is expected to show gratitude.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't about ungratefulness.  Ungratefulness is vile and terribly uncouth.  This is more about the fragile balance between wanting to treat somebody an deciding what they should like.  Surely true generosity is buying someone something they really want even if you deem it to be utterly crap.

When buying for The Mother who loves jewelry, clothing and pretty things he'll buy her electronic items, again, things he feel she should want because it's an area he is interested in.  The Father will examine lists of what a person desires systematically deleting ever single item he doesn't like.

There's not much I actually want.  My Christmas list is usually empty.  The clothes I like I'm too fat for, most shoes or boots I get I end up selling to pay for other things.  The only thing I am genuinely interested in purely for me is tattoo's and that is one of the things they ban me from buying with any gifted money they may give me.  Why?  Because they don't like tattoos.  I could understand if I wanted to buy heroine or prostitutes but they're fundamentally invalidating my personal taste.  

Surely the notion of gifting is thus at times double edged, is a gift being given to treat the giftee or merely to induce a sense of generosity and promote benevolence within the gifter?  To essentially make them feel like a better person?  To give should be to make someone smile, not to dictate to them what should make them smile and never purely to receive gratitude to inflate your own ego and self worth.

True gifts are unconditional.


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