Today is mother's day and we gave my mom-in-law gift cards - and, as usual, she was thrilled! She has a very interesting gift-giving policy, which it has taken me about three years to finally begin to appreciate. Today I saw the light.
For every holiday, my mom-in-law tells all of us exactly what she wants as a gift. Not just an idea or a suggestion; no, she is expecting to get exactly the gift she has asked for no more, no less. If she doesn't get it, she isn't even that nice about it, and I've come to realize that this policy has existed in my husband's family for a long time and is seen as a rule. At first, I disliked it because I felt like it took everything that was personal and heartfelt out of selecting and giving gifts, not to mention fun. I mean, how many different ways are there to dress up an envelope containing a few pieces of symbolic plastic? Now, as I begin to accumulate well-intended clutter, I am beginning to see things from the other side more clearly.
Take Easter for example, where people often give cute bunny rabbit stuffed animals. Easter comes every year, without fail, and if someone gives me a stuffed bunny every year and I'm on of those insane people who feels like they can't throw anything away (read: my mom-in-law) then I am going to end up storing a lot of bunnies in my guest bedroom closet.
We've come into a culture of choice - where people like me can afford to buy their own luxury items and would prefer to do so. The best gifts I can think of are ones that are perishable like flowers, chocolates, food, and drink. Another great gift is experiences (movie/concert tickets, bed and breakfast gift certificates). These are the things that I don't tend to splurge on as much as I should with my hectic schedule.
So what does this mean? Why have we changed so much?