• Thu, May 5 2011

Why (Mother’s Day) Gifts Matter

I have an embarrassing secret to share. A sentimental, gushy and obnoxious secret. I love Hallmark holidays. Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Administrative Assistant’s Day. If you can buy a card for it, I want to celebrate it. I don’t just want to celebrate it; I want a gift.

It doesn’t have to be a big gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive or sparkly or luxurious. It can be anything really. For Administrative Assistant’s Day, I bought our office manager her favorite drink from Starbucks. For Grandparent’s Day, I picked up a $10 bouquet of tulips, my grandmother’s favorite. On Valentine’s Day, a nice dinner is gift enough for me.

No matter how small the gift is, I’m ok with it. As long as there’s something.

Lots of people get annoyed with these made-up, marketing-scheme holidays. They’re insulted at the idea that their everyday gratitude isn’t enough. These holidays are an excuse for mothers and secretaries and couples to feel special. They’re driven by greed or capitalism or selfishness. I’ve had plenty of boyfriends who whined about the obligation of Valentine’s Day. I don’t think I ever received anything for Administrative Assistant’s Day, even if I spent 3 years answering phones and filing expenses. And an ex-boyfriend and I literally had a weeklong debate about Sweetest’s Day. Plenty of people despise the commercial holidays, but not me.

I like celebrating these holidays because I believe it is an opportunity for us to say something other than “Thank you.” Think about how many times we all say “Thank you” throughout our day. I probably use it in half of the conversations I have. I thank my bosses every time they compliment my work. I thank our office assistants every time they do good work for me. I thank everyone who opens a door or runs an errand or provides an answer. I say thank you to everyone, all the time. While those are all meaningful and polite ways to express my gratitude, sometimes “Thank you” loses its punch through over usage.

I guess what I’m saying is: No, your everyday gratitude isn’t enough. It’s nice. But it just isn’t enough. So the Hallmark holidays provide the perfect opportunity to say something a little extra. It lets us share our gratitude on a larger level. And it helps us communicate our appreciation in a ready-made card. It lets us be appreciative and lazy, that’s a great combination!

Gifts aren’t important for the money spent on them. Gifts mean something because of the time and effort they take. They make people feel warm and special, which we all could use more of. I like receiving gifts and feeling appreciated, but I also like giving them. I like showing people how much they mean to me, no matter how many times I’ve said “Thank you” that year. So I like the Hallmark holidays. And for each and every one that applies, I like to exchange gifts.

Or maybe this is a 500-word excuse for the child in me who just keeps screaming, “Yay! Presents!”

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  • Ash

    Buuuut! Buuut! (that was from the child in me). We don’t get gifts because we WANT to show appreciation. Instead we bitch and moan about how society says we HAVE to and you wind up with resentment not thanks.

  • Hall

    I think the Secretary Day & holidays like that are nice because as an employee you rarely get a thank you from anyone, but I don’t expect anything at all because it’s pretty much ignored. Mother’s Day however is VERY important to me. There’s nothing I work harder at than being a good mom & it means a lot to have it recognized. I don’t necessarily need a gift (although I wouldn’t be upset to get one) but I do like a day of being told “You are doing a great job & we appreciate it”. All that said, I’m being forced to work this Mother’s Day & have been pissed off about it since I found out 2 weeks ago & will continue my brooding/moping through the day.