Girls, Let’s Chill Out About Christmas Presents This Year, Ok?by Chiara Atik on December 10, 2010
Here is something I have been guilty of in the past: Being a horrible, demanding, entitled girlfriend. My worst offense? Insanely high expectations for Christmas gifts. I’m sorry, ex-boyfriends! (But I’m reformed now, I swear.)
It was never a question of expense: I wasn’t concerned with whether my boyfriend spent $5 or $500 on a Christmas gift. Dropping a lot of money on a gift would be too easy. What I was looking for was harder, a task not for mere mortals.
To assure myself of my boyfriend’s devotion to me, each year in November I would start dropping hints to remind him of his impending Sisyphean task. The gift had to be romantic. It had to be thoughtful. It had to be personal. It had to be meaningful. It had to be a first edition of a book I loved as a child, a portrait he commissioned of me, a trinket I’d once said I liked that he remembered, every film we’d ever watched together, a mix-tape of songs he’d written inspired by my love.
If, God forbid, a gift should fall short of my expectations, I wouldn’t hesitate to make my feelings known. I once made an ex return a pair of shoes he’d picked out for me, because, well, shoes?! That’s not romantic! (The poor guy had merely thought to himself, “Oh, she likes shoes, I’ll get her some!” I’m still ashamed that I made him take them back.)
Don’t worry: Like I said, I’ve repented for this abominable behavior. I learned my lesson and I seriously couldn’t care less about gifts now.
A reader recently wrote to Real Simple’s “Simply Stated” blog, complaining about a boyfriend re-gifting a necklace he’d originally gotten for a previous girlfriend. I was surprised and impressed by the writer’s response:
He’s a guy. Which means he has no idea you feel this way. He’s not trying to insult you. He’s not thinking about how shopping for just the right gift to please a particular person means more. He’s thinking he spent a lot of money on something beautiful, and it’s special to him, and so are you, so he wants you to have it.
Be good-humored about it. Accept the gift for what he means it to be, not for what you interpret it to be.
Be good-humored about it: Isn’t that just the best advice about dating, period?
If you’re a girl who puts a lot of value into Christmas gifts, I urge you to reconsider. I’m not saying we should completely lower our expectations. We don’t want gifts that are thoughtless. But maybe some of us need to just expand our definition of thoughtful.