Thursday, December 28, 2006

[gift giving] the imbalance of expectation

We were having a little discussion about presents and I came over as a bit curmudgeonly about it all. I felt that the Japanese had the right idea in writing everything in a book – the date, who gave it, to whom, what category it was, how much it cost [roughly], what the occasion was. That way the gift was always appropriate and never created an imbalance of expectation.

Not so, said one lady. A present is a spontaneous gift, an impulse of affection. Yes, said my friend but if one friend is richer and one poorer, then an imbalance is created and the poorer feels awful that he can’t respond in kind. Oh what’s it matter, was the lady’s response. Reply - it matters a lot to the person who is the ‘lesser’, shall we say.

My friend and I had a gift exchange this morning and with one or two exceptions, the gifts were roughly of the same nature. Why to do it at all then, is the obvious question. Answer - because it took effort to get the gifts, to think out what the other wanted and in the exchange, each went home with something more than before and it was to his taste.

Of course you have your own opinion on this, no doubt.


Gracchi said...

I agree with you. The presents I hate are the ones that are generic Christmas presents- the ones I love are ones that are actually meant for me, that show some appreciation of who I am and what I like. So my favourite Christmas present of this year is a set of volumes about the philosophy of cinema.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I agree with you too. Where there is an imbalance, it matters to the "lesser" person. Here people don't go over the top with gifts. I have a "no present pact" with most of my friends in the UK as it is ridiculous to end up paying more for the postage than you did for the gift.

doctorvee said...

You might like this post by Greg Mankiw which considers why people exchange gifts when it would be more efficient for people to just buy things for themselves.

Ellee said...

I always love buying presents, I put a lot of thought into it, and it is always the thought that counts, which is appreciated more than any monetary value.

I hope you had a good Christmas anyway, it's good to be back blogging.

james higham said...

Good to see you back, Ellee. I was over your way today and knew you were.

james higham said...

Doctor Vee - Chris Dillow also commented on this. Tiberius and WCL - thanks.