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Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and everyone (well, almost everyone) was talking about expectations of gifts, dinners out, breakfasts in bed, rose petals on the floor, bubbles in the hot tubs and whatnot. Almost everyone expected something as a gift of love, something that would show that he or she cares.
One of my friends requested a Pandora bracelet from her boyfriend. The guy has three jobs and barely lives from paycheck to paycheck. Instead of doing some research, for example, just checking out Red Envelope prices and getting a better and a cheaper version, he went to Pandora store and got the bracelet. His debt management skills require some deep and intense education. I guess my friend did not care about that small financial nuisance. She needed him to prove his love.
What did he do? He bought her a Pandora bracelet, putting it on a credit card of course. Ultimately they both got something to remember each other by: she got a bracelet, he got a new bill. Happy Valentine’s!
I asked Beaker a long time ago to stop giving me gifts, especially on Valentine’s. I did not want to equate our love to a simple exchange transaction. Of course, it is nice to get a gift and treasurer it. But I am a strong believer that a material thing should not represent love.
Love should not be transactional.
Gift exchange by definition means a transaction: I’ll give you something, and you will give me something in return.
A gift exchange is expected and cultivated in our culture.
I was always disappointed with the gifts I received in the past. Somehow I expected people to know me, and give me something meaningful. My expectations never lived up to the actual gifts I got.
Marshmallows in a lunch box, wrapped in old newspaper, is not a gift I will treasurer for life.
When it comes to gifts, people’s expectations are usually pretty high. People expect you, if you truly care about them, to go all out and buy expensive stuff. Most of us don’t want to offend anyone. God forbid someone will assume that you don’t care enough.
So we go out and spend money on things we cannot afford, turning our feelings into a commodity.
We are programmed by our consumerist culture to exercise gift-giving as an expression of our love.
The more expensive gift we get, the more we believe that we are loved.
I was appalled by the price of the Pandora bracelet. Apparently it can go as high as $500-$800 and up. How much love does it convert to?
Material, physical items should not be a measurement of one’s love and care. I understand that we like to hold on to physical items because we see a sentimental value in them. But lately I have noticed that I see much more sentimental value in memories and experiences that I share with my loved ones.