Ask And You Shall Receive
You would think in this day and age it would be easier to shop for others with all of the choices there are out there. No longer is a hat and scarf set the best thing you can find for grandma. You can get creative and, if you can't find it in the stores, that's not a problem either. You can just order it online have it delivered straight to your doorstep.
But with all of the advances we've made in gift-giving-ology, I personally feel the same struggles year after year.
What do I get?!
Before I gripe let me just say that I'm luckier than most. I can afford to splurge a bit as I have no rent or mortgage payments hanging over my head. I have no children. I don't have any brothers or sisters. No, it's just a few key gifts that I need to purchase and yet, those still manage to stump me year after year.
Shopping for mom and dad for instance has never been fun. This is because my mom loves to shop, much more than me, and so she pretty much has everything she wants already, because she has already bought it for herself. Sometimes she still likes to wrap presents and address them to her and sign them from Santa and act all surprised when she opens them. Who she is doing this for I have no idea.
Then there's my dad. My dad isn't that much of a shopper, unless it's supermarket shopping which oddly enough he LOVES. But still, anything he "needs" mom picks him up on her shopping spree.
Neither one of them have hobbies. Neither one of them are particularly into electronic gadgetry. My mom isn't a cooker, a baker or a candlestick maker. My dad isn't obsessed with sports. See my dilemma?
So in the past I've managed to conjure up a few gifts that have showed, at the very least, thoughtfulness on my part. When I was younger and had no money to speak of, I'd make them musical mixes. I've purchased CD's they would never purchase for themselves before I could just download them. Another year I found gifts commemmorating each of their individual heritages, Irish and Italian.
But most Christmases, more often than not, I do the copout gift. A sweater. Some perfume. A computer game. Something that shows it's the thought that counts, but little more than that.
Which brings me to my next point: Do you think it's better that we all tell each other what we want or is it better to be surprised? Cause personally, I go back and for on this one.
The advantages to knowing what people want is the guesswork is eliminated. They don't have to act like they like that hat and scarf set you gave them and you don't have to act like it's a gift you believe in either. This way both of you know where you stand. And when you think about it, it's not so absurd. Children make lists all the time. So why, as adults, do many of us stop doing this?
Of course there are disadvantages. If you get someone exactly what they wanted and you know that they know there's no reason to even wrap the damn thing then, is there? Hey! Here's the new XBox360 you were eyeballing. Don't even bother feigning surprise. We both knew you were going to get it.
I think this is why I always liked the way my parents did it. Some gifts were surprises, some were things I asked for. So this year I wanted to try and do the same for them. I came up with the idea of getting them tickets to see The Jersey Boys in NYC. Only problem is I had to consult with them first. One, I need to know which day they can go and two, this was the only year my dad decided to try and get creative and said he might get that for my mom. We are talking about a man who never shops for Christmas or birthdays or anything, so while I was glad he took an interest, this also forced me to show my hand, so to speak.
And how about those we don't know all that well but we have to find something for anyhow? These are people like your coworkers and acquaintances, needy, etc. As if it wasn't hard enough trying to predict who is going to get who something, then you have to figure out what to get them.
Sure, there are always tried and true generic gifts you can spring for, but if you're anything like me, you feel lame doing it. Still, you usually end up doing it anyway. This year I opted for the "backup" gift idea, purchasing a 6 tin cookie set from Sam's so I have a gift ready just in case an unexpected coworker decides to surprise me in a different way.
Then there's the third tier of gift giving- the Secret Santa. My friend made me do it. So I chose a name of a girl I know, but don't know. It's a 15 dollar limit, but the week of Christmas you have to purchase little dollar store gifts, sort've as hints, and leave them in their mailbox. Only problem is if you don't really know the person well, it makes it very hard to give hints. So I talked to a friend we have in common to get some ideas. This way the awkwardness when you exchange gifts with a semi stranger will, at the very least, be cut in half.
Of course as has been said time and time again, all this gift giving manages to do is cloud us from the real truth: Jesus is the reason for the season. Besides, it's the thought that counts. And you can be my baby, it don't matter if you're black or white.
Wait. That doesn't seem right.