Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Debate on gifts

I wonder which type of gift is better, a permanent one, or one that gets used up.

I can see arguments for both.

A permanent gift, like say a souvineer, from a place you visited, has certain advantages, the main one, being that it is permanent and the recipient will have it for a while. Thus of the giver has some meaning, and you are sentamental about things you might mourn the death of flowers, and the fading of memory of the occassion of the gift.

On the other hand, if it is a bad gift (and I am sure that many of those are given each day) the recipient does not want to have it for a long time.

A temporary gift, like say flowers or candy is more ephemeral, and thus you do not have to live with it if it is ugly or just not something you want to live with. Also, sometimes you really do not want to remember the giver of the gift for very long, and you feel bad actually throwing away a perfectly good teddy bear or whatever. But once it is gone, it is gone. Once you ate the chocolates, there is no more gift.

People have different preferences. I have to give this some more thought. Any thoughts?


Josie said...

Well, I'd say that permanent gifts only appear permanent but they're not really that way at all. And the psychological investment in the thing that appears permanent sometimes isn't worth it. For example, a man buys his girlfriend a 10,000 dollar engagement ring with a big fat ugly diamond in it. She loves it, knows it's valuable, flashes her rock around everywhere for weeks or months or years and one day, it goes missing. She feels awful, thinks it's a "sign" that something is going to go wrong with the relationship. She's crushed and weeps and nothing the guy can do or buy will replace her trinket. But things get lost, destroyed, stolen. Stuff happens. It might have been better to skip the ring altogether and get a tattoo or nothing at all. Temporary gifts are more in touch with reality-things are always in flux, they come and go. And if you have something lasting like love (I'm an optimist in the love area but arguably that doesn't last either) then no gift, permanent or temporary, is going to adequately represent the emotions behind it. So it's better to give the everyday little gifts, temporary but emotionally cumulative. Wow....I've thought about this waaaaay too much.......

Karl said...

A few things. First, WOW, you really do have something to say about this.

Second, rereading the post, I am struck by my odd style. It sounds a bit like a standard Talmudic argument. Rabbi X says that permanacy is better, Rabbi Y says . . . I hope I don't sound like that in real life.

Josie said...

It's not such a bad thing to make a talmudic sounding argument- they tend to be balanced and most people don't have the clarity to evaluate two sides of an issue fairly. Anyway, I raised this question of gifts with females at school and they all disagreed with me. They felt that permanent gifts add continuity and are worth the risk of loss. If you have a falling out with the gift-giver, you can always pawn, toss or give away the gift. Most importantly, they thought that little temporary gifts were "romantic" while permanent gifts were "more romantic." They also tied it into memory with heirlooms and such. I'm biased because I'm not big on gifts. I mean, they're nice but it's no big deal. But women also give gifts-so what do the guys out there think?? Do love letters and poems constitute gifts or do guys thing that's cheesy?

Karl said...

Poems and love letters: Cheesy.