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Monday, January 6, 2014

Are You the Confident Type or Fearful Type?

There are but two kinds of gift-givers:  the confident and the fearful.  The former knows you will adore her gift because she’s put so much thought and care and effort into it.  The latter dreads that despite her thought and care and effort her gift will end up on a “worst gift ever” list.

I am of the fearful tribe, and this year...
...I read about 100 words of a column about fabulously bad gifts.  I stopped reading in despair.  Not only did I not get why her gift made the list, I hurt for the hapless giver of floor mats.  If somebody notices you need floor mats and goes into the wretched automotive section to get them on your behalf, why is that not a great gift?  See why I’m fearful?

My best friend is of the confident tribe, and recently when we met she had a gift on her back seat to be delivered later.  It was stunning:  wrapped in clear crinkly paper, tied with a sumptuous ribbon, and adorned with bells.  The gift was a festive platter, and on it were homemade Christmas cookies too beautiful to eat.  It was like a picture out of a magazine.  My friend knew the recipient would be delighted, for on a recent shopping trip together the recipient had admired just such a platter, and our friend took note.  (My silent thought:  “I’m not worthy . . .”)

Maybe that’s why I’m in the second group.  As hard as I try, there’s always the potential shame of my gift ending up on the island of misfit toys, not to mention my guilt when I don’t feel Receiver’s Joy.

When it was my turn to tell a story I described one of those dumb group random-gift exchange rituals, the epitome of the fearful giver’s guilt and shame.  Someone placed a ten-dollar bill in the exchange because she’d forgotten to bring a “real” gift.  I said excitedly, “who wouldn’t want that?!”  Best possible gift, best possible outcome, thought I. 

My friend looked perplexed.  “I don’t get that at all,” she said.

-Elaine Jack, Assistant Editor, Today's Family magazine
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