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Style Central: Gratitude or Attitude?

Let's be honest. Do we decide what Christmas presents to buy based on what our loved ones really want? Or do we buy what we really want them to have?

Have you ever received a Christmas gift that left you cold? Literally? 

You wanted one of those great ear-flap hats to wear when you attend football games, junior league hockey or shovel snow should we have any this winter. Fur-lined to be exact. Sure they look a little dorky but so what? Who cares? They are warm and cozy and they would protect your precious ears which are highly susceptible to frostbite according to the media.

So, when she asked you what you wanted for Christmas, you said an ear-flap hat.

Uh huh. What else?

Nothing really. Just the hat.

The next thing you know, it's Christmas morning and the giver is clearly excited to see you to open her gift. In fact, she's giddy with anticipation. Meanwhile, you are thinking . . . please let it be my hat . . . please!

Oh, wow. A beautiful designer shirt! Monogrammed no less. (Which means you cannot return it. Drat.) She loves that shirt, got an incredible price on it and is absolutely sure it will fit perfectly and you will look great when you wear it, all of which is true. She knows all about fashion and style. You? Not so much.

Ok. A shirt was not what you wanted, not what you needed, and you are a wee bit disappointed. (What the heck? Are ear-flap hats that hard to find?)

But, here's the thing. Because you are grateful she cared enough to give you the very best, as the ads used to say, and because she is looking at you with such hope in her eyes (even if she did use your credit card), you smile, give her a big hug and say thank you, dear heart. This is great.

In other words, you give her gratitude not attitude.

You are a prince among men.

But I can't help but wonder. . .  

Why did I let that Brooks Brothers Christmas catalog seduce me with their photos of perfectly gorgeous men in perfectly fitted shirts, standing in front of a perfectly adorned Christmas fireplace?

Why didn't I just buy the darn ear-flap hat and make his day?

Why indeed.

prairiemoon December 08, 2012 at 04:13 PM
"Or do we buy what we really want them to have?" Those are the people who say they've finished their Christmas shopping in August. Then if they don't like what you bought, it's too late to take it back. Instead of always assuming you know what people want, why not ask them first?
tonka December 08, 2012 at 11:46 PM
why not talk about something important and save this article for a cute blog
Nancy Pipal December 09, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Good point, Prairiemoon. Thanks for your comment!
Nancy Pipal December 09, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Oh my! I thought gift giving was important, especially this time of year. But that's just me. Does anyone else have an opinion?
Sue Becker December 09, 2012 at 01:20 PM
This article really hits home, Nancy. My comment is a bit off track, but then again not so much. I have a friend who loves to shop and never comes to my home empty-handed. It makes me feel that our friendship isn't enough and it also makes me feel indebted to buy her something when I go to her house. I finally had a conversation with her about it - I think she finally understands that her getting to shop for me is giving her the joy, not me. Attention shoppers - it should definitely be about the recipient, not you.
Nancy Pipal December 09, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Very well said, Sue and kudos to you for having that conversation with your friend. Thank you so much for your comments!
Jennifer Peters December 11, 2012 at 03:32 AM
To receive a gift, well-intentioned, from a loved one is great; to receive the gift you actually want - sublime. Great article! Words to remember while holiday shopping!

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