Giving Gifts My Way
I stopped putting my name on Christmas gifts when I was in high school. And since then I have usually denied being the originator of gifts, only confessing it under duress. For me, presents ought to be given anonomously. Aything else is an abomination of the concept of gift giving. Presents should neither be given nor received with the expectation of recognition. The fact that so many people want to know who is giving them a gift reflects, I think, that we have largely lost the concept of the “sacrificial gift.” Many people might think it is common courtesy to know who gave them a gift in order for them to be properly, politely thanked. But I think that it would be better if we still had a tradition (and even a concept) of random kindness in society, or random good works without expctation of any kind of reward. As it is, many in the West have a capitalist, business-oriented notion of gift giving: gifts received in one column, corresponding gifts, or thanks sent in another column to balance the sheets. Western individuality cries out, even demands, recognition making anonimity suspicious. He urge to be anonymous needs to be tourtured out of people.
I encountered all this once again in December at my office Christmas party. We exchanged gifts kept under a certain monetary limit. But when the gifts were exchanged the person orchestrating it insisted on the giver identifiyng themselves or, failing that, for the receiver to guess and then drink alcohol with each failed guess. (A bummer for me because I don’t drink. I played no part in that bit of social terrorism.) My gift was received. I stayed stubbornly silent. Then as camouflage I played along with others looking around like fools, searching for the mysterious giver. Eventually, thank God, it was given up and they moved on. The person in charge, of course, knew it was me all along and was just waiting, waiting. But I reasoned that the reason we drew names from a hat two weeks earlier was 1) to create randomness, and 2)to make the exchange anonymous. People are weird.