2016, December 24th
Hi RIP friends,
Those who know me know how I don’t usually like gifts.
No, I’m not an ultra evil person, let me explain it a little bit more. I hate to have to buy gifts for “special occasions”, which appear to be every other day.
The RIPs are very social, especially Miss RIP. We have tons of friends. Add to that tons of relatives in both families. Plus, we both have lived in several places, like Rome, Naples, Milan and Switzerland. In every place we’ve established strong connections and dates to celebrate.
Integrate this over almost 40 years and essentially every day in your calendar is: “today it’s exactly 17 years since we painted the living room, what a coincidence, how are we going to celebrate?”
Or something like:
Miss RIP: “Honey, tomorrow will be exactly 1000 days since the child of WhoTheHellAreTheySorryIHaveForgottenTheirExistence-Friends was born! What are we going to gift them with?”
Mr: “I don’t know… btw, if tomorrow is the 1000th days it means we’re getting close to his 33rd month, can’t we wait and just gift once for both these ‘special days’?”
Miss: “Uh… you’re right…”
Mr: “Thanks my love 🙂 I knew you’d have understood and agreed on a single…”
Miss: “You are right… you are right… in 5 days it will be exactly 33 months since whatever and I wasn’t prepared… panic mode on! Check out how many pajamas that kid has, be quick!! Let’s look for one that matches the shirt he’s going to get from us for his 1000th day!!”
Ok, jokes apart, I and Miss RIP have a slightly different view on who, when, how and what to give. For example, I don’t like to bind gifts with special dates. Whenever I feel the duty to give I feel something is wrong. I like to spontaneously give to people whenever I like, not when it’s exactly their 300,000th second since last time they had an hiccup. I must admit that my behavior leads to slightly less gifts in general, since there are way more “special dates” than times where I feel like giving something to someone. But it’s ok, I’m fine with that.
I don’t like to physically go buying stuff. I hate shopping malls, I hate being within that crowd of people in a fake place with fake music and fake piazzas. I feel in the wrong place. I’d rather shop online. That’s not only for gifts but for regular stuff too. I hate shopping in general, feeling forced to go buying craps for someone else is even more annoying.
I don’t like buying things that 90% of time are going to be thrashed, recycled or in best case scenario they’re going to clutter people’s houses.
I usually don’t like receiving gifts too. It’s rare I receive something I really would have purchased myself. To give you an example: last year I wanted to try to run a triathlon (failed way before taking it seriously due to several minor injuries) so I received an expensive sportwatch I’ve never used. I feel sad about it, but I didn’t need it. And I didn’t need the extra digital clutter associated to having yet another account to setup and keep up to date, yet another flow of spammy emails to filter out and god knows how many other hassles.
I believe I’m the best person in the world in the “knowing what I like” contest. And even if I like something, if I didn’t schedule the purchase it means I don’t really need that something right now.
“RIP, you’re being mean. If you have in your radar object X and I buy it for you what’s wrong? It’s free money for you, why do you complain?”
No my dear friend, it’s not free money. Yes, I’m not paying for the stuff I’m receiving but I’m paying for the stuff I’m giving to you and this is an inferior solution compared to “everyone buys their sheet whenever they want”. Plus, why the hell should we play the evil game of comparison? What if your gift is way more valuable than mine? I hear backtalks everyday on “how cheapass X is” for their giving behaviours and poor gifts choices. I hate that, seriously.
“Ok RIP, what about gift cards?”
That’s just another inefficient idea. Gift cards are money placed under a shop. Which one is better, 50 Euro or 50 Euro to be spent in shop X? It doesn’t make much sense to me. It would make sense if the face price of the card were lower that its value (i.e. if a 50 Euro gift card would cost 40 Euro) and if the receiver is already a regular customer of shop X.
I don’t even know what kind of objects people need. I’m not good at it. If we meet and talk together for an hour I will forget 90% of this experience, I’m sorry. I won’t remember how you were dressed or what’s that thing you’d like to buy. Forgotten in a second! I won’t remember most of the uninteresting things you’d tell me. Though, I’d remember every detail of the new ideas we threw on the table. I’d remember the deep discussion we had about a topic we both care. I’d remember the projects you’re passionate about and the feedback you gave to me about my ideas. I just won’t remember what colour your shirt was, sorry about that.
My guess is that people don’t need more stuff. I’ve the feeling that most of the things we exchange as gifts, especially during Christmas, are unwanted, unneeded and are going to clutter our houses. Plus, as an investor, I think the economy would still be fine without all this garbage game.
Maybe gift lists can help here. Like a wish list on Amazon or a wedding list. One should put some effort to keep it up to date and who wants to buy stuff to someone else can get inspired by stuff the receiver signaled they’re interested in. I don’t know if there’s a universal killer app for wish lists, maybe amazon’s one is fine. Anyway, no. No, no no it still doesn’t make sense. If I really want those items I’d buy them myself.
Ok, what’s left? Gifting is not just a matter of stuff, it’s mainly a way to tell someone you care about them, isn’t it?
I like handmade gifts: a handwritten letter, a knitted hat, a homemade cake, a 6 pack of craft beer, a painting that you made… The point here is that you showed you care about me, not that you felt obliged to buy me sheet. And I’d love to dress a unique hat instead of a 5.99$ one from H&M 🙂
I like consumable gifts: a bottle of olive oil (better if it comes from a farm you know directly), spices, tea, high quality pasta… The points here are (1) you don’t clutter myself in the long term (2) you let me know about a product I may like but I don’t know yet.
I like (slightly less) experience gifts: a flight ticket for a weekend in a city we wanted to visit, a ticket for a SPA experience… The point here is that you still don’t clutter me but the risk of something under appreciated is still high. Good for very close friends and/or couples.
I like (a lot) time gifts: a handwritten coupon for a binge watching marathon of Game of Thrones together, an evening of no duty (no preparing food, table, cleaning and dishes), a promise to play Pandemic Legacy together for 24 sessions straight… The point here is that I know time is your scarcest resource and you care about me so much that you’re offering part of it to me.
And finally I like idea gifts! What’s that? Please, follow me…
Surprisingly this Xmas Miss RIP approached me with
Miss: “hey honey, why don’t gift each other with an idea for this xmas?” – then she suddenly said – “… it will be tough for me, I don’t know exactly what kind of idea can I give to you, but I’ll try!”
Mr: “That’s awesome, that the perfect gift! Now, what do you mean by an idea?”
Miss: “Freedom of interpretation, ‘an idea’ 🙂”.
Mr: “But for you? For us? Ok ok don’t ask 🙂”
I really enjoyed the process of coming up with my idea: I focused on what can make her a better person. I packed my idea with a long handwritten letter (how impossibly hard has become handwriting?) with few thoughts on her and on us. I took time to focus on what’s important but not urgent and I hope she’ll appreciate my idea. I’m not going to disclose here what’s the idea, it’s not important.
I enjoyed the process so much that I’d like to make this a kind of routine, maybe yearly, maybe quarterly. I want to become a better person and I care about my beloved Miss’ feedback.
Providing some form of written, recorded and slightly committing feedback is a powerful tool to help your friend/lover and show you care.
2016, December 26th
Holy sheet Miss RIP took it seriously and offered me 10 ideas (instead of one) to improve myself by installing new healthy habits. Cool, I’ve got new years resolutions written by someone else. But honey, waking up so early every morning to exercise, meditate and write?
Anyway, I also committed her into something with my idea. Now we’ll walk together on the sharp edge of soft commitments, hoping that it’ll give strength to both our goals and our relationship.
At least I hope so!
Happy holidays everybody!