Gifts: They’re not that evil

Is it so wrong to enjoy celebrating holidays with gift giving?

You’d think it was, listening to all the chatter about how society’s gone down the tubes with its mindless consumerism.

It turns out, buying gifts for other people is one the of the biggest offenses of the new century and Valentine’s Day is no exception.

It’s mostly a Facebook thing these days. We all feel comfortable extolling to the world why we are so much better than the corporate saps who don’t understand that Valentine’s Day was invented by card companies, candy makers and flower shops to get us all to buy, buy, buy.

I’m tired of reading the rants and listening to people talk about the horrific act of – gasp – buying stuff.

Maybe it’s because we’re fresh off the Christmas “reason for the season” train, where we all learn that buying gifts for others is terrible, but I’ve had it with the notion that if you participate in any gift-giving tradition you are nothing more than a corporate consumer hell-bent on buying love from everyone you can.

Isn’t gift giving one of the most selfless acts of love? I seem to remember an O. Henry story in which a woman sells her beautiful locks of hair to buy her husband a fob chain for his watch and her husband sells his prized gold watch to buy his wife a comb for her hair. It’s a wonderful story and it showcases the deep love these two people have for each other through no other medium than the giving of gifts.

My husband and I give each other gifts because sometimes we like to show how much we love each other through a real object rather than through words.

Concert tickets to see my favorite band, a beautiful peace lilly for our house, books I’ve mentioned wanting to read: These are all things he’s bought for me with that vile, awful, no good, very bad thing called money.

Would I love him any less if he had never bought me those things? Absolutely not. Does that mean we should stop buying each other gifts altogether? Again, absolutely not.

Because it’s not the gift that really matters. It’s the time and effort put into finding just the right thing for that special someone.

A book signed by my favorite author, who died while I was in college, and purchased by my parents with cold hard cash brought me to tears.

One of the best Christmas moments this year came when my husband and I exchanged gifts and both were a Stormy Kromer. We had no idea the other one had bought the hat as a gift and didn’t plan to open them at the same time. It just turned out that way and it made us both laugh.

Are we all terrible people for having those moments because we had to buy a gift to get there? I don’t think so.

So I’m not going to feel guilty over the card and gift I bought for my husband on Valentine’s Day. They are just another way to show how much I love him and their purchase does not make me a mindless consumer.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Chocolay Township resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.