It occurred to me this morning as I stood in line at Dunkin’ Donuts that there may be a couple people left in the world who have not yet heard this rant. This is for you guys! Let me start out by saying this: I’m not a big gift person in general. I don’t require them for Valentine’s Day or Anniversaries or Guy Fawkes Day or Flag Day or whatever other holidays people exchange gifts for these days. I do like to get presents on my birthday, and a nice anniversary or Christmas gift will not be pushed away with an upturned nose and a sneer. No, I do appreciate the thought. However, gifts just aren’t that important to me–to get or to give. I value time and consideration over money or objects, which is exactly why the gifts below always irk me.
Flowers, Candy and Jewelry
So, say I’m dating a guy. Everything is going swimmingly. He hasn’t called me Victoria instead of Veronica even once. He’s seemingly funny and intelligent, and I’m getting the real inkling that he may be physically fit and vigorous enough to far-park and walk across a parking lot rather than participate in a virtual monster truck rally to get the closest spot to the store. Then a holiday comes along and he buys me flowers, candy, jewelry, or some combination thereof, and my opinion of his suitability as a partner plummets.
“Well isn’t that what you’re supposed to buy the wimmins?” you may ask. Well, yes. And that’s why I don’t want anything to do with it. For starters, I really only like flowers in the ground and not dying slowly on my dining room table. Secondly, I don’t particularly like chocolate most of the time (heresy, I know.) Finally, well… do you see me running around in gold and diamonds? And thus my point: Any man who buys these things for me has no idea who I am. He is being the equivalent of an eight-year-old and buying what I, as a woman, am supposed to like. That’s fine for an eight-year-old, but a lot less fine for a thirty-year-old. It represents pure laziness on his part. Instead of taking the time to get to know me and my interests, he’s painted that broad, caveman stroke of “WOMAN,” shopped accordingly and called it a day. Boo!
This being said, I am sure there are women out there who would love to get a dozen roses, a box of chocolate and a glitzy diamond ring. That’s fine, but it’s not me, and I would wager to guess that it is not most women. (Just like I don’t think I can buy Jp some aftershave, a girly magazine and some steak for our anniversary and have him feel loved and understood.)
Ten Bajillion Wildebeest Figurines
Another, less egregious gift-giving gaffe that I have encountered: Someone realizes that you have some particular interest, say, ohhh, wildebeests. So then for every. single. holiday, they get you some variation on that theme. Then before you know it, you’re thanking them politely for the ten bajillionth wildebeest figurine and desperately trying to plant some other interest of yours in their head in an attempt to subtly hint to them that maybe you have more wildebeest figurines than any one person could possibly utilize.
(As a side note: on a behind-the-scenes museum tour at the F.D. Roosevelt Library/Museum, as we talked about all the model ships sent to FDR by dignitaries and average citizens alike, I wondered whether he ever got to the point where he wished he never told anyone about his affinity for ship models.)
So What Should People Buy?
I say all this, of course, at the risk of sounding like an ungrateful bitch, but I don’t think I’m asking for that much. I want people, if they are going to purchase items for me, to take the time to get to know who I am and what makes me tick. And then be a little creative.
Personally, as I said before, I prefer time over objects. One of the best “gifts” ever for me was an extended NYC date early in Jp’s and my relationship: We drank, ice skated and museumed our way across Manhattan. I’d take that any day over an expensive piece of jewelry.
So my advice? Whoever you’re buying gifts for, really think before you do so. Don’t base your purchases on a caricature or stereotype of your loved one. And a question for everyone reading: What are your least favorite gifts to receive?