Tuesday, 2 December 2014

On Presents, Generosity and Christmas

I have always liked to think of myself as a generous person. I give people a lot of slack, I'm not quick to judge, and I like to think I'm quite generous with my time. As soon as I was in control of my own finances I think my monetary generosity began to change a bit. Suddenly I realised the value of money, specifically the value of money to me, and I began to see giving gifts as an exchange value (ie, they will probably spend X amount on me, so I will spend X amount on them).

Whilst this may be a 'fair' way to think about things, its not exactly a generous way to think.

My whole philosophy on generosity has changed the closer I've become to my best friend, Katie (who actually wrote an excellent blog post about generosity (and how it doesn't always have to involve money) at the start of November). Not only is she a loving and kind person, but she is hands down the most generous person I know - perhaps with the exception of my Grandma (although their generosity is expressed in different ways). I like to think she's not only made me a more generous, and more thankful, person, which I will be eternally grateful for.

All this sentimentality leads me onto Christmas presents. Its the first week of December, so I suspect that a lot of you will be beginning to buy your Christmas presents - or at least you'll certainly be beginning thinking about what you want to buy for who, and how much you want to spend. Normally, I umm and ahh for ages trying to decide what to buy my nearest and dearest. This year I've decided to do things differently, and I've already got the majority of my Christmas presents almost completely by accident through impulsively buying things I thought other people would like.

I had a plan to write all my closest friends letters throughout the academic year and include little gifts with them. I bought a load of small presents... and then realised how expensive postage would be, even for tiny items. So by the start of October I already had Christmas gifts for them. A couple of weeks ago (for you, for me it was today) there was a stall up in my University's Student Union, and as I was browsing I saw more gifts I thought those same friends would like... so I bought them. Yes it added more onto my Christmas bill, but I thought why not? They are fun things I think/hope my friends will appreciate, so why not be a bit generous with my money and go for it. It felt so good to be buying something that wasn't for me, and knowing that I'm not going to be getting an equivalent gift back doesn't bother me in the slightest.

I know not everyone will be able to do this - I'm very lucky that I have the spare cash to spend a little extra on my friends without it hurting my bank account too much. And if I add up all the little 'gifts' I buy for myself throughout the year and how good they make me feel as opposed to the amount I've spent on my friends recently and how good that has made me feel, there's no competition.

My next 'proper' post will be a book recommendations post - as they are my favourite gifts both to give and receive. Let me know your thoughts on gift giving, generosity and Christmas presents in the comments below, or tweet me @VickiMaitland.

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