I like to give gifts. And I mean real gifts- gifts that I’ve thought about, gifts that I’ve dedicated myself, gifts that give a part of myself to my friends and loved ones. Gifts they think they’ll use. I make my gifts to my friends, generally. Some friends get Christmas cookies in tins that I pick up from the thrift store. And, sometimes, I regift, or give hand-me-downs: books that I think my sisters will like that I’ve already read, a bed-set that I’ve used for my friend that is currently using a couch pillow and a comforter, sewn mittens for a friend using fabric scraps I caught on clearance, or something I found in the thrift store in the first place. And, if I am to listen to the mainstream media, by doing so I am committing a social faux pau on scale with farting at a wedding.
Now, one could make the argument that criticizing the mainstream media is picking the low-hating fruit. That’s probably true- after all, all of those ads on the side of the page for “Brand New Shiny Toy” and “Get Rich Now” aren’t there by accident. These sorts of messages are designed to make one think that worth is something you can put a price tag on and getting the bauble that “everyone” (or Every Woman, or Every Man) wants can be a substitute for the time and energy that pursing an actual relationship takes. The point of these messages can basically be boiled down to “More expensive gifts mean you care more” and it’s quieter message of “If you don’t spend a lot you don’t care that much”.
But, it isn’t just the mainstream media. My mom is paranoid about being caught regifting, I was once told by an ex-boyfriend (who came from a wealthy family) that no gift is better than a cheap gift. And seriously, what a fucked-up idea is that? If you aren’t rich, if you don’t have a ton of disposable money to go buy the shiny, you shouldn’t give a gift? You shouldn’t enjoy the feeling of making someone feel special by giving them something all done up in wrapping paper and bright ribbon? The warm feeling when their face lights up? Or, equally as terribly, if your social circle is broke, you shouldn’t enjoy getting gifts from them? Is it really so much more terrible to get a book that’s already been read as opposed to getting nothing at all?
Getting upset about regifting is a mark of class privilege that is disgusting. Now, of course, I still of the dear belief that you give gifts because you WANT to, not because you HAVE to. I am not an owed a gift, nor is anyone beholden to give me one. But, if the gift is used, but it is still clear that it’s giving was after thought about what YOU would want and need, is that really worse than giving you a shiny that you have no use for? I say “no”. It is the thought that counts, and it is clear if thought has been given.
I know that gifts are not always given out of love. There’s social obligation, there’s expectation, there’s giving to brag. And it’s really sad, because at the end, that’s what makes the holiday season stressful and annoying, as opposed to a time of warmth and joy.