Why We Don't Do Gifts
Christmas gifts. Easter baskets. Valentines. Birthday presents. Anniversary gifts.
These are the gifting occasions that come to mind for most people - give or take a few. I myself have incredibly fond memories of family birthdays and Christmas time. We had sweet traditions and the shrieks and squeals of delight caused by gift excitement was priceless. Gifts have a way of bringing such joy. Givers often feel an overwhelming sense of relief and happiness from the reactions of those they're giving to. It's a unique, thoughtful, and loving act. The novel surprise of the receiver and the opportunity for the giver to give, go hand-in-hand as one of life's most innocent joys.
I am, by nature, not a "things" oriented person. Give me just about every other love language, but "gifts" doesn't even remotely make it into the running for me. Thankfully, my husband is not a "things" person either. Therefore the conclusion as to why we don't get each other gifts is simple:
My husband and I don't give each other gifts because they don't make us feel loved.
Below are a few observations we’ve noticed about gift-giving. At least when it comes to giving from spouse-to-spouse. Perhaps these are personal to us, but I wouldn't find it unusual if the general population of people noticed them too.
Kids + presents = joy in its purest form. This cannot be denied. The older you get, the less novel gifts become. Your reaction to opening them becomes rather routine and dulled. It's a natural progression.
When we need or want something we generally just.... buy it. Sure, we save for bigger items, and giftcards help us afford something we've been eyeing, but we take care of most needs and wants throughout the year.
It's easy to forget what someone gave you, but hard to forget a great memory that you’ve had because of them. When I think back to childhood (or even adult) Christmases I can only remember a small handful of gifts I received; but I easily remember who was home and the emotions of the day. You can't throw a memory away. Gifts, however, will eventually end up at Goodwill. I’m looking at you, Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer.
We're hard to buy gifts for. Is it just us? Maybe we’re too picky, but we’ve given each other some failed gifts, and the waste of money caused us to involve each other more when choosing things. Which brings me to my next point...
We discuss all our financial decisions and share a bank account. It's kind of hard to surprise your spouse when you can easily check credit card/bank account activity. And when you're dealing with higher priced items, it's part of the health of a marriage to discuss it, right?
We generally want/need less as time goes on. We have a roof over our heads, our bills are paid, we have regular dates, we travel occasionally, we each use some "mad-money," and we're clothed and fed. What tangible gifts could we really want? Maybe it's the minimalist side of me speaking, but God provides our daily wants and needs and anything beyond that, we view as excess (meaning: unnecessary).
Getting something new on our birthdays doesn't make us happier versus if we had received it any other day. One day, Tom surprised me with a new Mac. Just on some random day of the year. I really needed one, he saw that it had gone way down in price, came up with a good excuse to go to Best Buy, and bought me one while I was distracted in another department. Honestly, I think that was more exciting than had I received it on my birthday. We spend our birthdays enjoying an experience instead!
Over the last three years we have mostly forgone gifts between the two of us. Our birthdays have been spent doing something. Maybe we'll have a small gift to open on the day (though I don't think I could recall them), but what I can recall for certain is what we did, ate, or saw in celebration.
So, my husband and I don't do gifts because we don't show and feel love with them. We don't do gifts because we value each other's company and a shared memory more than an item. We don't do gifts because sometimes the need to buy a gift can lead to having something lying around that we don’t actually need. We don't do gifts because it's not "us."
We do life together, and that is such a gift every.single.day.
As a little disclaimer, for fear that this may sound pretentious or ungrateful, gifts are wonderful. Coming from other people, they are always appreciated, we are always grateful to receive them, and we try to enjoy shopping for other family/friends when the occasion permits. Again, this does not come naturally to us and causes more stress than joy sometimes, I must admit, but when we find the perfect thing for the right person or someone finds the perfect thing for us, it's such a joy. Helping someone get a big item they've been wanting for a long time is so rewarding, isn't it? There are always exceptions to a rule, and we have come across many. We've received plenty of items we wouldn't buy ourselves, but have improved our lives immensely - mostly coffee or kitchen related :) so please don't read this and think we're gift haters. "Things" are just something we think very little about - we're usually daydreaming about vacations or food. This post is about the relationship between gifts and our marriage personally, that maybe others can relate to as well!