Have yourself an inefficient Christmas
This may not be as amusing to my reader(s) as it is to me, but what the heck, I have been rather serious on this blog for a while…
The idea is that there is this tug of war between a purposeless gift on the part of the receiver and something that stands out and becomes remembered and perhaps cherished. I am a Scrooge from way back, I stopped liking Christmas gift giving probably around 13 or perhaps a bit younger (I don’t care for birthdays either). My rationale is that every gift choice I would care for that is reasonably priced I already have, so what remains is unreasonably priced items or stuff I don’t care for. Except for children (though I largely remain a Scrooge, allowing my wife to manage that aspect), I tend to project these thoughts on others so would rather just skip the whole process. It is interesting, though, the idea the author mentions, that someone might be clever/insightful/lucky enough to conceive of a gift that you don’t realize you actually desire/need until it is presented. I have some older friends who doggedly resist any efforts to connect on-line (meaning they remain in the 20th century and lack smart phones or Internet access) and though they express interest in watching our satellite TV, they have adamantly resisted any suggestion that we get them a dish so they can watch more than the handful of channels they get over the air (and don’t get me started on their refusal to purchase a new TV to replace their gigantic tube that is probably causing the floor to sag because of its mass). I sometimes consider giving one of these ‘gifts’ despite their avowed objection in the hopes that once they have it available they might come to see the utility, but so far I have honored their rejection (it certainly ‘helps’ in that regard that we are dramatically over extended on our construction efforts).
My wife and her siblings engage in a gift exchange. Each sibling purchases a gift at a pre-set amount, then they draw lots, pick a gift, then open it. Interestingly, the earlier openers then have the option to swap gifts after they have seen what the later opener’s gift is. What is really fascinating to me is how often the gift that was purchased for the exchange winds up back in the hands of the original purchaser. It seems the current strategy is to purchase a gift you yourself would like, then if you don’t get to open that gift, swap for it later. Sort of like the stories of spouses each purchasing a gift for the other that the other then gives back to them. At least you would never be disappointed.
So, what do you think? Should gift giving be ‘efficient’ or is our current culture of swapping generally meaningless gifts the optimal path?