Monday, November 27, 2006

Today's Ramble - 11/27/06

Tis' the season. Seasonal gift giving contributes significantly to over-consumption, and the psychological damage that can occur as a result. I am a proponent of giving. However, things have really gotten out of control. Juliet Schor's research points out that often times gift giving between spouses ends up (over the years) becoming a way to justify buying expensive gifts for ourselves. Isn't it common for couples to pre-plan their gift giving? I'll get you the iPod, you can get me the watch. I will buy you the diamond earrings, you can buy me the alloy wheels for my car. This is consumptive self-gratification disguised as gift giving.

The same thing occurs when gifts are exchanged between other family members and friends. It can end up being a game of oneupmanship. Of course, the same is true for weddings, baby showers, birthdays, etc. The heavily advertised gift giving season has become almost the antithesis of what gift giving is all about. It is about thoughtfulness and caring. It is a way to show you care about someone, and are thinking about them. When the giving of a gift becomes culturally mandatory, it loses its value as a token of human connection. This is particularly true when the item being offered comes from a lengthy list. For those that cannot compete in this expensive ritual because of limited financial resources, a feeling of inadequacy results. Often times these folks develop very negative feelings about the holiday season. Combined with over-consumption, holiday gift giving is no longer goodwill to all men.

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