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    « The Saturday Post: Tis the season...for festive flash mobs | Main | Grandma's snafu and some Fun. »

    To give or receive? Which one I prefer and why

    News flash: It's far better to give than to receive!

    Okay, that's not really a news flash. We've all heard the adage again and again. Many of us even agree with it.

    I'm one of those who agree. I thoroughly enjoy giving gifts of any sort—time, service, something tangible of varying dollar amounts—to those I care about. This holiday season, most of the gifts I'll be giving will be handmade by me. Not because I'm uber crafty like so many other grandmas, but because after years and years of telling my family, "Okay, things are tight this year so Christmas is going to be smaller than usual," this year it really will be smaller than usual. The smallest ever, in fact, at least in terms of money spent.

    All I want to add about that is Hallelujah for Pinterest! I'm so thankful the latest and greatest in social media has removed the stigma from presenting homemade presents. Or so I'm counting on regarding the gifts I'll be wrapping up and placing under the Christmas tree.

    So, I like giving things, making things, presenting presents of varying awesomeness to my loved ones. Without a doubt, I prefer the giving far more than the receiving.

    It's not only for the obvious reasons, though. While I love giving gifts, I'm not an incredibly selfless, altruistic person who wants nothing more than to give and give and give without ever getting in return. I like getting stuff. I like when someone has thoughtfully considered what might please me, make me smile, warm my heart.

    The part I don't like is the pressure to make sure the one presenting me with a gift knows to their very core that I am indeed happy as a clam with what they've given. I'm not good at that part. I don't whoop nor holler nor scream in delight upon opening a gift. Even if it's something I have yearned for, begged for time and again. Not even when it's something special I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd receive (think DSLR camera from Jim last Christmas, an original The Eloping Angels from him many years before).

    I sincerely appreciate every single gift ever given to me and every single gift that just might come my way in the future. I think it's the giving part of me, though, that really throws a wrench in the whole receiving part of the gifting tradition. Primarily because I want to give in return exactly the response the giver hopes to see from me. And, as I mentioned, I suck at that. No matter how much or in how many different ways I try to express that I lovelovelove whatever it may be and how thrilled I am it was given to me, I always feel I fail at being exuberant enough, loud enough in my thanks and hoorays.

    And I hatehatehate that kind of pressure because I don't want to let down anyone who gives me anything.

    My family—bless them, each and every one—continues to give me gifts, despite my neuroticism. They know me well enough, have seen enough Christmas mornings when I wasn't whooping and hollering, to understand I express my thanks and appreciation differently. Quietly. Sometimes with tears. In fact, it's become a bit of a game in my family to see whose gift will make Mom cry.

    Which, alas, only adds more pressure. (See? Neurotic.)

    I don't look forward to such pressure come the exchanging of Christmas gifts. I do, though, look forward to giving my homemade gifts to my loved ones. For it is indeed—to neurotics such as myself, as well as to selfless, altruistic folk—far better to give than it is to receive.

    Sometimes and for some people, it's just the easier thing to do.

    Today's question:

    What percentage of your holiday gifts will be homemade this year?

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    Reader Comments (19)

    I made guilted book bags/shopping bags this year. Most of my gifts will be handmade this year. I like to give except to my husband. He either has/buys everything he wants and he really, really does not want anything else. That makes it hard.

    November 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterolga

    About half of mine will be homemade. I like giving more usually. I have some people in my life who are awful at receiving gifts and so often take things back that I've almost given up giving them anything.

    November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPammeey

    This is me, exactly! I hate opening gifts in front of people, because of the pressure! My sister, on the other hand, makes givers feel fantastic, because she is so enthusiastic in her receiving.

    November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGinger Kay

    I am not an especially crafty person altough I wish I were! I always wish I could crochet or knit but I never follow through with learning how to do the same. In the past I've given home made cookies, breads and candies as Christmas gifts to friends. This year, as I'm packing for my move, I did cyber shoppig and had everything sent.I'm not even decorating! It will be an unusual Christmas for us, that's for sure!

    November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPat

    Glad I'm not alone, Ginger Kay!

    Pat: Despite the unusual circumstances, I bet this will be one of your best ever holiday seasons as you move near your grandbabies. I'm so very excited for you! And doubly excited as it means I will soon meet you. Once you get settled in. No pressure. :-D

    November 30, 2012 | Registered CommenterLisa Carpenter

    I'm not really crafty either but there will be lots of baked treats and fudge! And while they aren't exactly homemade do Shutterfly calendars (11 of them!), mouse pads and mugs count? I did a lot of the work!

    November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Kc

    Grandma Kc: Shutterfly projects definitely count! I have done one this year (with a few more to go) and geez-o-peaz they take a long time!!

    November 30, 2012 | Registered CommenterLisa Carpenter

    Errr...I probably won't be doing any home made gifts this year, because I don't have the time and I'm not all that super crafty. But I LOVE giving good presents. I don't like time constraints though- I like to see something in the middle of the year, and think, "that would be great for so and so" I hate buying gifts, just to 'get someone' something. I like thought and effort to go into it.

    November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuzRocks

    I'm not making gifts this year; the eyes are so much less able to complete knitting and crocheting that maybe I'll get things done for next Christmas that I started this year. And, I would much rather GIVE than RECEIVE.

    November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

    I give of my time and efforts, gift cards are good for many who hunger for food here..I listen and try to cheer those without jobs, feed them at the food pantry I volunteer and spoil some who are just plain forgotten, God said there are angels among us daily didn't he? well I tell you a holiday day is just that, but all year long many hunger for companionship and love and food..I would rather give than ever receive it is just my nature, I am not taking anything with me when I leave this terrestrial and I have had a wonderful life with a sweetheart of a hubby who spoils me a lot, he is loving, kind and never liked kitteh cats at all although we have had them for years, lost 2 in one week, I went crazy with grief, he was there for me and comforted me..He is an angel in my life so I like to spoil him and our only child too, but many are hopeless and I try to help them out..who needs the holiday days to be nice, why not be nice all year thru!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermary jane s

    I'm not very good at making or baking gifts. But I do like to give gifts that I find at craft fairs and small business owner type shops. I admire you for being to crafty!

    November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie E.

    I've never been great at crafts and I hung up my apron after 30 years of marriage, so I definitely won't be giving homemade gifts this year. Online only for me ;)

    November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNonnieKelly

    I'd rather give than receive, and would much prefer focusing on the grandchildren. Adults these days have what they need or want and you sometimes just end up buying 'stuff' n order to say you bought something. We stopped buying 'stuff' a few years back and concentrate on the kids - makes the holidays more fun and less stressful. And, I make home made items for those that appreciate and enjoy the time and effort that goes into them.

    November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

    I'm making little guardian angel bracelets for all my mom's caregivers - and one for mom, too - and, giving plates of cookies to close friends and neighbors. Other than the fairy crown I made for my littlest granddaughter, everyone is getting store-bought gifts. - I come from a long line of not-so-crafty women! My grandma used to give us some amazingly weird crocheted hats and sock-thingies in the strangest color combinations. I miss unwrapping them and trying to look pleased. - And, I miss my grandmothers.

    November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGallivanting Grandma Rebecca

    My very favorite thing to get is something hand made. Those are the treasures. It's why, I think, I like to give things I've made. Less than half of what I'm giving this year is handmade. We've been on the road and traveling so much this fall that it's crept up on me - so I did a lot of on-line shopping, but with gift ideas in hand from the kids. It was for my granddaughters that I made things.

    December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

    Oh my gosh, Lisa, you could have written this post about me! From the giving, to the handmade for the same reasons, and the pressure. Seven or eight years ago, Erin gave me 2 tickets to a Bon Jovi concert (I never thought I would see them in person). I was in shock and speechless as tears streamed down my face. She made it known that was the reaction she wanted to see with everything she gives me. No pressure there, lol!

    December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette

    Lisa, I am inspired by your energy and imagination and I bet that each and every recipient on your list will be so honored to have a gift that you have lovingly made just for them! This doesn't exactly count in the same way but I planted amaryllis bulbs in cute green tip pots for three neighbors with whom we exchange gifts. With luck, they will be ready to bloom just in time for Christmas.

    December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrown and Flownwnandflown

    Loved this post Lisa.

    Not celebrating Christmas, I am able to stand & watch the madness that people go through this time of year, Newspapers are full of Christmas suggestions & I often wonder how some people can afford it. Has Christmas lost its true meaning? Most of my friends celebrate Christmas, this year they are buying something little for the grandchildren.

    As we celebrate Chanukah, Lucy gets something very small.

    December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSally Kabak

    I'm "only" making a few things this year: a nightgown and a pair of pajamas for my granddaughter, and a pillow for my son and his wife. The pillow I'm knitting is made from a very wooly yarn, so it looks like I'm knitting a sheep! Never worked with anything like it before.

    Back in the day, I was a lot more ambitious. To illustrate, here's a post about a few of my dubious achievements as a crafty person.

    December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRisa
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