Over at Music City Bloggers, Malia asks:

will all your holiday dreams come true if there’s a little velvet box waiting for you under the tree?

My holiday dreams? Do not involve jewelry boxes. At all. As I said in the comments at MCB, diamonds suck. That whole industry is evil and I don’t get why they’re so damned expensive. Sure they sparkle and sparkly things are appealing, but I can get a heck of a lot of pleasure out of looking at and wearing much less expensive sparkly things.

As for my jewelry preferences in general, I’d much rather have an unusual piece with semiprecious stones — something that reflects my personality. One year I asked Karsten to have my favorite ring — one that I made when I was in high school, and I wear every day — polished as a Christmas gift, and that was a wonderful treat. (It could use it again, now that I think of it.)

For that matter, why limit it to jewelry? I prefer unusual gifts that reflect my personality. Besides the aforementioned ring polishing, one of the lovelier gifts Karsten has given me was, at my request, to have one of his original art pieces framed so it could hang in our bedroom. I love that piece, and it meant a lot to me to be able to look at it every day.

Was the gift any less wonderful because it wasn’t a surprise? Not at all. I love surprise gifts, but meaningful gifts trump surprises, in my book.

And hey, it’s hard work to think up a meaningful, surprising gift just in time for the holidays. And that’s the thing: I really prefer not to play into the pressure of holiday gift-giving too much. I LOVE the idea of giving gifts; I just don’t like the idea of being socially obligated to give gifts.

After all, I buy myself indulgent little things all the time; if I’m going to be given a gift, I prefer it to be something meaningful and representative of my relationship with the gift-giver; the cost and timing of the gift truly have nothing to do with its value to me.

The editor’s note in the latest issue of Domino magazine talked about great gifts: how they’re special and surprising, but most importantly, they reflect the best interpretation of the relationship between giver and recipient. That’s one of the biggest things that bother me about the consumer-driven holiday culture we’ve (d)evolved into: it feels so much like checking an item off your “to do” list.

Which is why, as a side note, I hate the trend of giving gift cards as presents with a burning, boiling passion. In the past ten years, it seems to have become so common that I feel like all people do is end up getting the same amount in gift cards that they give. If they’re lucky.

We all might as well write each other $1,000,000 checks and tear them up — at least that’d be more memorable. In fact, why not? Let’s all get together, drink some Silk Nog, write checks to each other in ridiculous sums, talk about what we’ll do with our gift money, and then laugh and tear them to pieces. Who’s in?

Gifts that really do keep on giving
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