Feighan: Gift-giving is a look in the mirror

Feighan: Gift-giving is a look in the mirror

(Photograph: Inventory xchange)

Discovering the right vacation reward is a bit like discovering happiness. It may be elusive and tough however while you discover what you’re in search of, it’s pure magic. However the wrestle is actual.
Weeks earlier than celebrating my first Christmas with my future husband almost twenty years in the past, I fretted about what to get him. We’d been relationship lower than six months however I knew I wanted to search out simply the precise reward. I fearful, fretted and combed the mall. Then I succumbed to my sensible instincts: I purchased him a humidifier and a bathrobe.
Nothing says love like moist air on a chilly winter day.
My husband, who comes from a protracted line of enjoyable gift-givers who purchase issues like potato weapons and life-size foam Taco Bell hats, opened his items with fun. It was to cover his horror.
It took years to make up for the humidifier – I even purchased the page-turner “The Cat Who Saved Christmas” the next yr to make up for it and present that sure, I can purchase enjoyable items too – nevertheless it’s exhausting to disclaim who we’re. And what we give as items is a mirrored image of our pasts and our upbringing.

Sure, the vacations are about a lot greater than items however nonetheless, discovering the precise reward for the precise particular person is a ability, an artwork but in addition a glance within the mirror.
Sociologists and anthropologists have studied gift-giving and what they are saying a few specific tradition. And it seems it says fairly a bit.
Marcel Mauss was a French anthropologist and sociologist who within the mid-1920s printed his ebook, “The Reward,” which made the argument that items are by no means free. His work was primarily based on learning a number of cultures and he recognized a number of obligations: giving, which is step one in forging and sustaining a social bond; receiving, which implies refusing a present could be to reject that social bond; and reciprocating.

In line with Mauss, giving items requires reciprocation. And with out that reciprocation, relationships may be threatened.
Primarily based on Mauss’s writings, the “identification of the giver is invariably certain up with the item given,” in keeping with the New World Encyclopedia’s web site.
And my identification is that I come from a protracted line of pragmatists. We give what you want, not essentially what you need. And that practicality is a approach of claiming, “I care about you.”
For my 22nd birthday, my ever-practical mom purchased me a Crock-Pot, by no means thoughts the truth that I didn’t prepare dinner in any respect on the time and had by no means cooked a factor in my life with a sluggish cooker. I used to be underwhelmed. However I nonetheless have that Crock-Pot to this present day – and use it.
However my gift-giving has advanced by means of the years. Influenced by my husband’s facet of the household, I now attempt to purchase a mixture of enjoyable and useful.
And for these family members who’ve every thing, I’ve switched gears. I now attempt to spend money on experiences or issues we are able to do collectively.
One Christmas, I purchased my mother tickets to “The Lion King.” For an additional, I purchased my sister an evening out at Pewabic Pottery for a make-and-take occasion. I’ll bear in mind these experiences and treasure them way over an sweater or piece of jewellery. And isn’t that what all of us need? Extra time with family members.
However now matter how a lot you develop and evolve, you’ll be able to’t shake your roots. My household will get a number of sensible reward this Christmas and a few enjoyable ones too. However my husband shall be joyful: He isn’t getting a humidifier.
mfeighan@detroitnews.com
Twitter: @mfeighan

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