Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gifts: Obligation or Thoughtful Gesture?

A couple of weeks ago, I got an invitation in the mail to a wedding. The bride was a good friend of mine back in college (many years ago now), but we gradually lost touch over the years. Our contact has whittled down to a yearly Christmas card. As I'm not on Facebook, there are probably a lot of people I could be in touch with. But the way I look at it, even without FB, I manage to keep in touch with the people I want to stay in touch with. This couple chose to put their info on a website, so I logged onto it. I decided to click on the "gifts" tab and immediately saw the phrase "monetary gifts preferred". OK, I get it. This couple is in their 30s and each person owned a home prior to the engagement. They have a lot of stuff and don't need more, so money is more practical, so that they can use it toward paying for the honeymoon or other expenses. I've seen this phrase on almost every wedding invitation I've received, but I still shudder at reading it. I've never had a wedding, but I imagine that if I ever do, I wouldn't expect any gifts. If I invite someone, it'll be because I want him/her there. I wouldn't care if a gift was given by the someone, but I'd be grateful if he/she did give one, no matter what it was. Gifts should be freely given, I believe, so there should be no condition placed upon the giving of it.

I'm currently debating attending or not. I would have to drive 2 hours alone to a venue in which I'd have to sit with people I probably don't know. That would be after I shell out at least a hundred dollars on a gift. Is it worth it? I logged onto tpf to read up on the discussion regarding this issue, and I couldn't believe the number of people who posted that AT LEAST $100/guest should be given to the bride/groom, even if they are just casual acquaintances. The idea is for each guest to cover the cost of his/her meal, so the guest would essentially be reimbursing the bride/groom for his/her share. I get the idea. Weddings are expensive, and in this day and age, many people getting married don't need stuff but need money. Money's more practical, so why not just save the hassle of buying an item when you can fork over the cash? If that's what someone chooses to give, fine, but why ask for it? Even in cultures where it's tradition to give money as a wedding gift, I don't think a request for it is written on the invitation. The guests should be close enough to the couple to know that's what they need that the written requests aren't necessary, I think.

Then I got an invitation to a friend's daughter's birthday celebration. This isn't such a bad situation. This friend actually reached out to me over the years, and I've known her as long as I'v known the friend getting married. This friend actually knows my current situation and offered to serve as a personal reference for job searches. I walked through Beverly Hills today, debating whether or not to get the little girl a "real" gift or to just pick up a gift card or write a check. What if the little girl has clothes and toys, so would money be the best thing? Then I decided to pop into Baby Gap, where I found a cute little dress, and I knew it was the right gift for the darling girl. I pictured her in it, and the style was just so like her mom's. Then I had a thought: gifts aren't an obligation. Gifts are things you freely give, so put a little thought into it, and you'll have your answer. Of course, I got a gift receipt, in case the dress doesn't fit
I was exhausted thinking of all this, so I walked down the street and straight into Sprinkles Cupcakes. And for the first time ever--I didn't see a line outside! thrill during my shopping ban (the only exception being my birthday present!). I meant to take a pic of all 4 cupcakes, but forgot about it until after I ate the raspberry one (oops!), so that's why there are only 3 in the pic lol

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