I confess I love reading other people's blogs. For me, it's a great way to learn new things (recipes, ways to do things, trends etc) and to learn about people. Recently, I read a thread on wedding gifts and the expectations that go along with it, which surprised me, not because there are expectations (don't delude yourselves - there's always expectations on everything) but because some readers refused to believe the expectations.
Reader reaction is always interesting and for some of the readers, there seemed to be a belief that giving an inexpensive present or gift card is OK and that basically the couple should be happy with whatever they get. The blogger in question was trying to get across that if you're going to a wedding, you should give a nice present with some thought that's not too cheap. If your financial life isn't too good, let the bride know but always give some thought to your gift or just not go. I also read a blog post where a person who's making a lot of money was whining about people expecting her to give more because she had more money. And then there are those people who want to give up on the whole gift-giving thing altogether because they don't have the time nor the money to do so.
I was taught to always appreciate what was given to me and that "it's the thought that counts." But while it's nice to be pious and say you have no expectations of any gifts at any time, who hasn't been disappointed when they received a gift from someone that they thought should have known better?
In my mid-20s, I was living alone in a new city with a new job that wasn't going well. I was lonely and away from my family and friends. My best friend had just married and she was living in another province but we were still close. Or at least I thought we were. When her Christmas present arrived in the mail, I was excited. When I opened it, I was devastated. She sent me a pair of cheap black socks (price tag still attached) with a card that just had a signature on it.
At that time, I needed a friend. The socks, for me, indicated what she now thought of our friendship - it was on the bottom of her priorities. If there had been a note, I could have forgiven the socks. Needless to say, I just couldn't face her after that. I was pretty hurt. Did I handle it well? Nope. Would I do it the same today? Honestly, I am not sure. Much of my reaction at the time was based on what I was feeling at that time in my life - loneliness, unhappiness, job problems - so maybe today, I could just laugh it off and move on. Yet even today, I wonder why she sent me that. It wasn't the gift that bothered me - it was the lack of thought put into it.
Some people are really put off by money or gift cards - and then there are those of us who would love to get them! So gift giving is a pretty individual thing. It's so easy to get it wrong and there are lasting effects if you do. But there does seem to be one common thread - you have to put some thought into it. And unless you're going to do that, you'll rub someone the wrong way.
But then again, we give gifts because they're a sign of affection for a relationship - we want to make the recipient feel good - why wouldn't you want to put thought and time into something that important?