I have similar feelings about gifts.
I think we’ve talked about it before, but for posterity, I’ll lay it out here. If this makes me an ungrateful asshole, I’m okay with that. I just don’t get the whole material gift thing (unless we’re talking about food!).
In my relationship with Max we haven’t really followed the traditional route in going through the motions of giving gifts at the standard appropriated times. Thinking about it now, we haven’t exchanged birthday presents for the past few years, Christmas/New Year’s presents, presents for Valentine’s Day or the Russian (somewhat) equivalents “Defender’s Day” and “Women’s Day.” In 2015 I didn’t get any gifts at all except some chocolates from a student, and I’m okay with that.
It’s not that I don’t like and appreciate gifts. And it’s not that I don’t like giving gifts. But to me there is nothing worse than a useless and unwanted gift. I think there are things that you can always give, no matter who or what, if you really really feel like it’s important to give a gift (chocolate, olive oil, in-season flowers, fresh fruit, tea/coffee/cocoa, socks… mostly food 😉 ) BUT what I think is more meaningful is when you see something that reminds you of another person, and you know that they will find it purposeful. For some people it could be a tchotchke – there do exist (gasp) people who actually like knick-knacks, but I think it takes knowing a person and really thinking about what they would like, not what you want (or just buying whatever you can for under $10!).
I will always remember the gifts that were surprises and that were really thoughtful over the ones that were just routine and mundane (perhaps someone did give effort and time in choosing the gift regardless and I acknowledge that). I will remember the random tokens of love and appreciation from my loved ones, and cherish them.
And, conversely, I will always remember the gifts that broke me somewhere inside because of their pointlessness and plain outright wastefulness. In moments like those all I can think of are a) people who don’t receive gifts because they live in poverty and here I am receiving a piece of junk that makes me angry, which makes me more upset b) landfills c) clutter in my surroundings d) the money that I could have actually used that was spent to buy some crap e) the resources that went into making the piece of shit in the first place and on and on, feeling equally terrible about myself for having high standards and for getting worked up about a gift that someone gave with much different intentions.
And in giving gifts I have great anxiety as you do, unless I have been intending to do something/give something to someone for a while and a holiday makes it more legitimate.
Maybe in a way our blog is like the modern extension of what Gma Lenore was working on: our family history, our views and perceptions laid out and trying to make sense of it all.
One more thing in response to your post: change is inevitable. You just gotta embrace it and keep on growing along with the world. We can reminisce about times past, but we can’t let ourselves miss the current moment and dream about the future.
Sorry for the delay in writing!!! Motivation these winter days is a struggle.