Shame and Gifting

18 Dec

When I was in elementary school I had a birthday party. It was one of those parties you invite all the kids from your class, even though you really only wanted to invite three of them, and then parents come too for some reason or another (probably to gloat about how they are such great parents for organizing socialization for their child). I was an awkward child. Although I was aware of social norms and painfully tried to be a polite little girl, I did not always succeed at abiding by said norms or being very polite. It was time to open gifts and, as was the case at these parties (whose goal I really do believe was to make the socially awkward children even more awkward), everyone gathered around to watch me ooh and ahh at the unwrapping.
It amazes me how vividly I remember this moment. I have no idea what the gift ended up being or who it was from, but as I peeled back the fragile paper and reveled the contents I was immediately repulsed at the sight. Without a second thought I blurted out “I don’t even like [fill in the blank]!” As it turns out, the giver of said gift had only used the box from something else to encase what the actual gift ended up being. I was mortified and thoroughly scolded by my mother for my outburst.
To this day, no matter how horrid the gift, I smile and give copious amounts of thanks. However, sometimes, the gift is expensive and I know I will never use it or if I do I will do so grudgingly. I feel guilt for not informing the person they wasted their money, but shame for not being more grateful they even thought of me.
This year for Christmas Michigan sent me a Keurig coffee maker. I HATE Keurigs. The cups are wasteful, the machines are a pain in the ass to clean, and you can only make one cup at a time. What if I have guests over? What if I want to have an all night Harry Potter marathon with multiple cups of that Ethiopian blend? It is an impractical waste of space.
I stupidly Skyped with him to open the thing and he knew immediately I was under-whelmed. I blamed it on sleep deprivation from too much overtime (which was indeed a true thing) and ended the call quickly. However, it sits by my bed staring at me, the guilt and shame driving me to close to tears.
I am in turmoil. I don’t know what to do. He is supposed to be moving in with me and I can’t tell him I hate a coffeemaker? Who gives a coffeemaker as a Christmas present to their girlfriend? Why can’t he be like a normal person and just buy me the boxed book set I very clearly stated I wanted and probably would have cost less! I would have even been happy with the French Press I said I wanted to replace my old coffeemaker with. Presents are about getting people things they wouldn’t or couldn’t buy for themselves…a Keurig?
This is such a silly thing to be having such a huge existential crisis over.

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