This week’s blog was written by Deirdre Gavin. Deirdre was a leader on this year’s Insight programme and will be working with us for the coming months, conducting research on behalf of Development Perspectives.
I’ll keep this short and sweet. Recently I had a conversation with a friend about christmas presents. She was complaining that her mother was insisting on no extravagant presents, just ‘something small’. Apparently every year her mother gets showered by her children with many, many little gifts and the theme is quite obviously ‘quantity trumps quality’. This woman is, quite frankly sick of the crap that is taking over her life and this year was determined to make a change. After hearing this I asked my friend “would you be offended if your sister didn’t get you anything for christmas?”. She responded “absolutely”. I admit I was quite shocked, in my family we aren’t really presents type of people. We would be lucky if we got a birthday present off each other never mind Christmas! After absorbing this response I decided to change tact somewhat. I said to my friend ” if your sister didn’t get you a present would you receive the message that she somehow loves you less?”. She was adamant that she expected a present and would be very hurt if she didn’t receive one. What is it about presents and giving them that we deem them essential in expressing our feelings for somebody? I just don’t get it. Am I living in a parallel universe to everybody else? The act of gift-giving has taken on a life of its own and we are oblivious. The era of fashion and beauty bloggers are perpetuating this materialistic madness. Do we give and receive so much that we have become desensitised to it all? How did we put this type of pressure on ourselves to resort to buying a gift (anything so long as it is something) for every Tom, Dick and Harry that is in our lives? Don’t you just miss the old fashioned Christmas cards where you can express your love, and gratitude for somebody in words that are from the heart as oppose to the make-up aisle in Boots.
Rant over, I’m now asking that this Christmas when you are out buying a million and one little ‘meaningful’ gifts, stop and question the decision. What values and beliefs are fuelling this decision? Is the present really going to add value to receivers life or make he/she feel appreciated by you?
Are you going to be overcome by societal pressures to buy, buy, buy and spend, spend, spend to have a very merry Christmas? Hopefully I have given you something to think about.