The Thought Behind a Gift
Valentine's day, the day we are supposed to give gifts of chocolate and flowers to loved ones. Not because we want to but because we've been trained this way. We might register it as something we want to do now but at this point how do we know if it's out of obligation or true desire? Thanks to big companies and their excellent ads, there's this huge pressure to perform a certain way at certain times of year and it's not just on Valentine's. If you can't tell, I don't have a high opinion of the day set aside to celebrate love. In researching how Valentine's came about, I spent a lot of time reading the wiki page. Did you know that in Norfolk, England there is a character called "Jack" Valentine who knocks on rear doors of houses leaving sweet and presents for children and those children are all scared of him? But the modern times section of the wiki is most fascinating. A British publisher issued The Young Man's Valentine Writer, which contains suggested sentimental verses for the younger lover unable to compose his own and it took off from there. Today billions of dollars are spent on mass-produced greeting cards.
Kevin and I don't exchange Valentine's presents (or cards). For one, until recently, money has always been tight and so buying things in the month leading up to Valentine's was always an expensive we couldn't justify. And secondly we like giving gifts when we find something that's perfect for the person, not because of an occasion. Which means that we tend to not make a big deal over any commercial events: Valentine's Day, Christmas, birthdays. Sometimes the gifts we give overlap with those occasions, but overall they are gifts that would have been given no matter the time but because they were right for the person.
I am not the best gift giver. I would say I hit the mark wrong more often then right and while it's the thought that counts, I like to do my best and not feel pressured to buy for an occasion. In my view, gift giving should be about treating a person because they deserve it and not about making my life easier. In fact, a gift should never be about me. Therein lies the problem I see with much gift giving, people give gifts because it betters their world and is less about the person receiving it. Valentine's day just seems to bring that sentiment the most; lingerie for him, game tickets for her, or (the worst) a spatula. I know it's slightly weird that my worst is a spatula, but that is a tool and unless the person receiving it is a hardcore baker and you are buying a special one because you know they won't splurge, it's kinda degrading.
So today is Valentine's Day and maybe you bought your special someone something, maybe you didn't. Maybe you agree with me that it's an over-commercialized occasion and money can be spent better elsewhere and maybe you don't. My question for you is less about the holiday and more about your thinking behind the types of gifts you give people. Is it for you, or for them? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Whatever your stance is, I hope you know that you are loved, you are needed, and I am glad you are here.