Tuesday, 29 September 2009

What is a gift?

According to dictionary.com noun 1. something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.

I love giving and receiving gifts and I like it even better when it's handmade. I do get a warm and fuzzy feeling just giving any gift but that has been made better recently when I decided that pretty much every gift I give is going to be handmade. I love the time and energy (and occasional cursing) that goes into each gift. It means more that just browsing in a super lit shopping centre and picking up something that shines and will probably be in the bin or the back of a cupboard in a months time. When I hand make a gift I have to put a lot of thought into it as I want it to be as special to them as it is to me. I want it to be kept and used. Is it egotistical to want them to think of me when they use it? Maybe so. But I do. I want my gifts to have memories attached to them. I want the people who receive them to know that I have thought about them.

However gifts aren’t all wonderful anymore.

These days gifts are a status issue. They say more about the person giving them that those receiving. We want people to think well of us based on our wonderful choice in gift. Above all else we MUST give something. Christmas and birthdays mean a present. It doesn't matter if the gift is useful or even wanted as long as they have a gift, that is what matters. This is why I end up with various "smellies" every Christmas. I never use them. Usually I give them to someone else. But it always saddens me that someone would rather go into Boots and get me something from the 3 for 2 range than find out what I would like. I would rather have nothing than that.

This year we are trying to get all our family to think about how much they want to spend on Spadgersdottier, half it at least, put the bigger portion in a bank account we are setting up for her and spend the rest on something small. She has sooooo much stuff. But even though she has all this she would rather be in the kitchen baking bread with me or in the garden with her Dad. But people don’t want to do that. They want to buy her stuff!

We are a nation of consumers. It is all about what we can get and what that stuff says about us. We must have the latest of everything. Keeping up with the Joneses has become a way of life. We don't even know who the Joneses are anymore! We are told by the media that pervades our lives that we can't live without X Y and Z. In fact we can live very well with very little if we only allow ourselves to.

Even as I try to simplify my life I still struggle with this desire for stuff. Now I can sew clothes relatively well I want to make lots of them. Do I need them? No, I have plenty. But I want them. I want to go and buy a ton of veg so I can learn new ways to preserve it rather than waiting for what the garden will provide. In pursuit of the simple life I am learning to deal with this desire for stuff and trying to transmute some of it into making for others. I intend to find programs for homeless or other needy people who need things sewing or knitting. That way I can still get all this stuff but it will be useful :o)

1 comment:

  1. Hey Affi'enia,

    I can relate so much on what you are saying! Earlier in my journey towards simplifying my life, I found that I became hyper-conscious at my own desire to buy and how much everyone I knew wanted to buy. It was disconcerting. In some ways it also felt a little discouraging.

    If I stopped buying and everyone else is buying, would I cause a rift in my relations with others?

    I also felt sad when I realised how much consumption was the basis for many of my relations with others.

    Take heart though! As I moved from consumer to...well...pretty much non-consumer, I ended up renegotiating my relations with others. They got used to me making things for them, and very slowly they started to give me gifts that were also handmade or made from sustainable materials. Better yet, some even started to give me gifts that were second-hand!

    The day I got second-hand gifts from my friends for my birthday was a turning point for all of us. It was the day that they stopped buying to project a reflection of themselves and instead chose something they thought was more a reflection of me. :)

    Ooops have written too much. Thank you if you've gotten this far! But more importantly thank you for this great post!!