Imagine the following scenario:
Your friends and/or family gather for the holidays. After a shared meal and perhaps some conversation, a large table is cleared and everyone sits around it. Each person lays a twenty-dollar bill on the table. At the host’s signal, each person moves their bill toward the person on their left. Everyone then takes the bill passed to them from their right.
Congratulations! Your friends and/or family have just celebrated an efficient, low-impact, bloodless Christmas, bereft of personal touch or recognition.
I realize gifts aren’t the reason for the season. I know I’m at an age when I should be less excited about what I might be getting for Christmas and more excited about the spiritual and emotional aspects. I’m lamentably aware that the person who buys me the best gifts is myself, because I know me best and I don’t limit my self-gift-giving to just Christmastime.
And yet…when I buy gifts for other people, I try to brainstorm ideas for the loved one in question with a modicum of creativity. I don’t always succeed, but I do try. The act of gift-giving itself can, for better or worse, reveal how well you know a person, how much of an effort you think they’re worth, and how imaginatively you can apply your problem-solving skills to such a task.
Obvious moral disclaimer: judging the gifts you’ve been given is frequently not cool. However, in my weaker moments, it’s not hard for the darker part of my subconscious to observe something I’ve just unwrapped and begin running background calculations to ascertain how much or how little thought or care went into the exchange.