Dec 16, 2009

The Whole Gift Thing.

I have been thinking a lot about giving and receiving gifts lately....well is that time of year again. Wondering where I got my ideas and traditions about giving gifts. Becoming painfully aware that there are a few "musts" in the gift process that I just never knew about.

At Christmas time I usually just purchase gifts for my kids, husband, whichever family we have been assigned for the Ord side, whichever family we have been assigned on the Baird side, both sets of parents and that, my friends, is it. I do not give gifts to anyone else. Oh, don't get me wrong I desperately want to give to other people but I just don't have that kind of money. Also, I have wondered if once I started adding other people to my,"giving to list" how would I ever stop? Thankfully, it seems from my "reading" that this is okay. I am not going to get arrested by the etiquette police for not giving gifts to my hairdresser, the kids bus drivers, etc. I will just have to deal with the guilt :)

It has been so hard throughout the years to have supremely kind friends give me gifts that were so well thought out, and so appreciated, and yet, I never gave them something in return because I financially could not. There was that year in Kansas that we got to the end of Christmas morning and there was a small very beautiful box still under the tree that I did not recognize and I opened it to find a gift card to Papa John's pizza in it with a very large dollar amount written on it from my dear friend Alyson. There was the year Kristy sent a huge box of caramel apples to us when we lived in Indiana. There was my Land's End gift card from Joan. There is nothing more amazing than opening a well thought out and unexpected gift. I dream for the day that I will be in the position to do this for all my friends. I know exactly what I would give them if that counts for anything :) According to etiquette there really is no rule that says you must give a gift in return. You graciously accept. Most people give because they want to not because they want something in return. If you are giving expecting something in return you might want to do some rethinking :)

Then there is the, "taking a gift when you are invited to someone's house thing." I am currently in the process of trying to figure out if I am ignorant to this because I have been a Mormon my whole life and it is not a "Mormon thing," or if it is something that is geographical, or if it is just plain old etiquette training that I never received. But throughout the years, throughout all the parties I have thrown there have always been a few people that always being me a gift when they come to one of my gatherings. I have really been curious about this. Is it required of me to bring something if you invite me over? Well I did some reading and guess what?.....Here is the painful quote I found, "Traditionally, a hostess gift is given when enjoying the hospitality of someone for a meal, party or overnight stay." I have failed in this. And one of my New Years resolutions is to be better at this. Nothing that will break the old, "Baird Family bank" but even just something homemade and small.

I am not good at accepting gifts. I dread opening them in front of the giver....well frankly, I hate opening them in front of anyone :) The attention is awkward for me....I really do not know why because in other situations I am perfectly okay with attention :) It may be because I am afraid of my reaction if I do not like the gift and I do not want to make you feel uncomfortable.

I love to hear about how different people do the Christmas present thing. It constantly amazes me how some people can just give three gifts to each child and that is it and it always has been that way and they never budge on that rule. I wish I would have made a conscious choice to make Christmas presents that way. But alas, the, "present thing" is not that way at our house. It isn't out of control (yet :) and I do buy mostly things they need that I am going to buy for them throughout the year anyway but I never feel very comfortable with how much it looks like on Christmas Eve. I call my approach, the "sweet and salty theory" book, one game, one outfit, one fun thing, one DVD, one CD, one..... you see what happens? I mean when do you stop? :) Don't answer that .....I am not ready for the truth :)

Every family gives differently and it is very hard to keep up with when to give and how to give at this time of year but one thing that you can never go wrong with is a heartfelt thank you. I was just going to preach about the absolute necessity of thank you's when I realized that I am not currently in the position to lecture on thank you's because I have a not been the stellar thank you note writer recently and it is weighing on my mind. So I will save that lecture for a time when I have finished writing my thank you notes.

Well all this talk about gift giving has reminded me that my family is waiting for my Christmas list. For some reason this year the list has not come so easy but here are my requests:

#1. A good, new kitchen broom.
#2. A circle shaped silver towel hanging "thing a ma jig" for the upstairs bathroom...the house was new when we moved in and one never got installed in the upstairs bathroom.
#3. A gift card to target so I could purchase towels for the upstairs bathroom
#4. A new copy of The Angle of Repose by Wallace, well loved, copy is missing the first 15 pages.
#5. The Wicked Soundtrack
#6. The Pioneer Woman Cooks Cookbook...yes, I might even cook out of it :)
#7. More of the note cards from Barnes and Noble that I like... nobody laugh.....the ones with Frog and Toad on them, Where The Wild Things Are, Sock Monkey, Charlotte's Web and Eric Carle.
#8. Superfreakonomics by Stephen Leavitt
#9. the lights above the kitchen table to stop shorting out :)
#10. The light in the basement storage room to be fixed.

And I will be sure to write thank you notes :)


Danielle said...

Do you read the comments people leave for you? Just wondering.

Anyway - I read your posting and I smiled when I got to the part about you not really liking to open gifts in front of people. I am the same way. I have been this way since I was a kid and I am not sure why. Maybe it's because when I was little, my grandmother had this knack for giving me the ugliest presents while she gave my other cousins really lavish and lovely presents. My brother and I were not her favorites, and we knew it from an early age.

The bit about the etiquette for bringing a hostess gift, it is both geographic in nature and also polite. Here in the south, it's quite common for people to bring something to another's home when sharing a meal or a visit.

Merry Christmas!

Brianne said...

After reading your Christmas list I feel kind of bad about stealing Angle of Repose from you last night. You can borrow the first 15 pages of my book any time you want!