The Gift of No Gifts

One of the issues I’ve had as an obsessive mind that overthinks every scenario of life, is regarding the idea of receiving gifts. I have very few memories of receiving gifts, where I enjoyed the process. That is one serious imaginary memory deficit. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy getting gifts, but I always hate the way I react. It stresses me to receive gifts, because a gift is somebody else’s idea of what I’d like, and seldom live up to hopes and expectation.

My mind pre-imagines all the things I want, but I never tell anyone my preferrences. I don’t like to ask.

Invariably the gifts received don’t live up to my hopes, in many cases, because my expectations were far from reasonable.  Because my sisters were so much older than me, I lived much of my youth almost like an only child with no cousins. My circle of gifts was smaller than almost anyone I knew.  My friends had more siblings, or more wealth, and I always compared my gifts to theirs with disappointment. As an adult remembering back, the reality is that I did quite well. It’s only my memory that retained the negative stories. I’m working on that.

For similar reasons, I don’t like to give gifts wither, and especially hate any situations where we might exchange gifts. The pressure of my obsessions is taxing. I can be in a foul mood for weeks in advance, or even the entire December gift season. As much as I hate the feeling or a bad reaction to a gift given, I don’t like the feeling of passing that on to others. Getting a gift you don’t like — or love, is stressful, because you’re forced to fake happiness and be polite. Giving the wrong gift is a horrible deal for both parties. It’s a failure. I hate failure.

Gift exchanges are even worse, because there is the possible cost differential to add to the uncomfortable feelings. You may have bought a cheap gift, or worse – a gift card or lottery ticket for a few bucks, and the other party spent weeks searching for a perfect present and spent more. When this happens, not only do you have the bad feeling of the wrong gift, but you have to cope with an obvious unbalance of cost. It can effect friendships if I let it. It can cause feelings that linger for years, generating additional obligations to make it up on the next annual birthday or party.

I have somehow managed to work my reputation into that of a guy who doesn’t do gifts. At all. I’m not sure how. It just happened. I don’t give birthday gifts, Christmas gifts or anything. In return, nobody gifts me. I say that I am happier with this arrangement, but I know I’m missing out on the joy and surprise of a good gift. It’s a brain thing. My gift is to not have to worry about gifts.

Now let me be clear; there is a huge part of me that loves getting free stuff. Any gift is at minimum, a surprise, a story, and a memory.  Great gifts are memories all by themselves. I have several ornamental gifts decorating my home, and each time I look at them, I am reminded of the person or event related to that gift. A good gift can be precious.

I suppose I’m not against the idea gifts itself, as much as I am afraid of receiving them in front of the giver. It’s the fact that I have to react live, and show happiness regardless of the gift.  My unhappy and stressful gift memories are of the bad and hurtful reactions. I find it hard to hide my disappointment, or fake it. On the other side of the coin, I can’t stop going on and on with gleeful excitement when I get a good gift. 

I wrote this with my birthday just over two weeks away. I know I will probably not get any gifts on my birthday. I am an adult. Not getting birthday presents is a normal fact of life for single adults. In one way I’ll be relieved, and in another way I’ll be sad.

Maybe it’s time to change my position, and reputation.

 

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