Is It the Thought that Really Counts?

It’s been the subject of jokes for as long as any of us can remember. That getting of the gift that you really don’t want or need, but you’re told to simply smile and say, “Thank you.” You daren’t turn up your nose, or politely decline. You must graciously accept, stifle your disappointment, try to come up with a few examples of how you could possibly wear or use it, all the while in the back of your mind you’re trying to figure out where in your storage closet you can stash it away until it’s safe to donate or regift.

EvenĀ SeinfeldĀ dedicated an episode to the subject called, “The Label Maker“. I am also reminded of this eBay commercial for Christmas past. But why, why do we do this? Furthermore, why do we allow it to be done? We are constantly being told not to look a gift-horse in the mouth, to not be ungrateful, to accept whatever gift we’re given because “it’s the thought that counts”. I have always challenged this sentiment.

In my view, I find it more inconsiderate on the part of the gift-giver than it is on the recipient. To me it is a glaring indicator that the giver did not take the time and consideration to learn what kind of person the recipient is and what they would like. It is a waste of money, in my opinion, to buy something that will be relegated to the trash heap. It also threatens to jeopardize the relationship between the two, especially should the giver discover that the recipient has never utilized the item, or even worse, has given it away. Also, it puts the recipient in the awkward situation of having to lie about how much they enjoy the gift or why they haven’t used it yet. It is a source of frustration when the giver actually ASKS the recipient what they would like yet still proceeds to get them something else. Why? What was the purpose of that, getting one’s hopes up only to let them down?

What about those who scoff at the idea of giving a gift card or cash, claiming it’s “so impersonal”? Am I alone in thinking that if the intended recipient specifically requests cash or a gift card so they can have options as to what they will purchase as a gift then it is decidedly NOT impersonal?

How do we delicately and diplomatically impress upon our friends and loved ones that this practice of thoughtless giving needs to STOP without being thought of as a snob and an ingrate? I’m curious, what do YOU think?