Gifting shouldn’t be a requirement of Christmas, and giving should be a way to show people you care
Christmas is practically here! For everyone who celebrates this holiday, presents wrapped in colourful paper and bows are one of the staple images of the season. Every time you look at your Christmas tree, you might be sneaking a peak and silently counting the number of gifts that lay waiting for you. But then comes the anxiety, have I gotten enough gifts to reciprocate what I’m getting?
People stressing to find appropriate gifts is a trend that can be seen reaching its peak right about now. Some people are frantically sweeping the aisles of commercial stores for gifts that look more expensive than they are, while others are scanning the craft aisle for budget-friendly, homemade options. This last-minute frenzy makes me wonder if we have lost the true meaning of why we give gifts in the first place.
We can’t help but wonder if we are required to reciprocate all the gifts our friends or family give us. Personally, I don’t believe that reciprocation should be mandatory. There are a lot of reasons why someone may choose to buy you a present in the first place. Maybe they’ve seen something they believe you’ll enjoy having, or it reminds them of a time you spent together. But when it comes to returning the gesture, I think doing it just because you feel obligated to takes the heart out of the holiday season.
As university students, being tight on cash is a pretty universal feeling for us. On top of the stress of school, trying to find the time, energy, and money to find gifts that your friends will care about is an incredibly daunting task. The unwritten rule to reciprocate gifts heightens this stress.
If someone unexpectedly gives you a gift and you have nothing to give them in return, it’s true this could lead to an awkward standstill where the individual gifting feels unimportant in the receiver’s eyes. But enforcing a transactional ideal onto young adults seems like a set-up for disappointment for both parties, as neither typically has the spare resources to purchase a gift that seemingly captures in monetary value how much they care.
Sometimes I imagine a world where Christmas is a time when people are focussed on spending quality time with each other rather than looking at price tags. The expectation of reciprocating gifts is ultimately becoming a toxic cycle.
I think nowadays we look upon gift giving as a transactional service because we have become too caught up in what we are giving, rather than why we are giving.
The beauty of giving gifts lies in the fact that it shows another person you’ve spent time thinking about them and have gone out of your way for them. I believe that we’d all be better off if gift giving came from a voluntary desire to give those you care about something they’ll enjoy.
Perhaps there is a way to break the stress train that barrels through the holiday season.
What if we broke away from only giving gifts on special occasions like birthdays or Christmas — would that create a more meaningful experience for all parties?
I truly believe that it would hold more meaning for both parties involved if gifts were given spontaneously throughout the year. But how would that work? Well, at any time of the year, if you see something that a friend of yours would really enjoy, you give it to them at that time. This would be in lieu of that half-hearted item you found at a store underneath a Christmas-themed sign advertising to the masses how perfect and unique it is.
At the end of the day, how you decide to give gifts is up to you, but I hope this article has reminded you to think about why you are giving in the first place.