Dear Miss Kitty,
A few months ago our friends just gave us a wedding gift of a goat. Actually they didn’t deliver us the goat – they gave the goat to a village in Africa on our behalf. The goat will be used for food, milking and I don’t know what else. It’s not that we are into stuff or needed a gift but we are vegan and the friends know this. We would have been really pleased with a donation to DAWG (since we love dogs). We have also received a few Holiday cards with similar “gifts” like money to an orphanage in India. I am more than O.K. with less stuff but if someone is giving a gift, shouldn’t it be something the gift-receiver would choose? One more thing, they didn’t even include the tax info as part of the gift.
Mark, SANTA BARBARA
Along with the return of hosiery, I believe William and Kate set a new protocol for wedding gifts with the 10 zillion in (soon-to-be worthless) Euros they graced more than one charity with courtesy of their recent nuptials. Perhaps you can now register for livestock for Africa through William Sonoma and skip the monogrammed crystal bar glasses. Maybe we should all put ammunition for Israel, baby formula for Bangladesh, and Big Macs for China on our wish lists to Santa. Is this new trend in “giving on behalf” because we recognize that we all seem to have more things than we know what to do with and perhaps less is the new more? Probably not and personally I think it is the ultimate in self-centered bad taste to shove one’s beliefs and values (be they moral or otherwise) under someone’s tree or onto their wedding thank you lists. This is a trend to be wary of, and very un-Santa-like.
How confused have we become that some people think it is socially acceptable perhaps even righteous to bestow their own choice instead of making an effort to see what would make someone else happy? This type of gifting is sort of like buying someone a massage, getting the massage yourself, and telling them how good it felt. I used to hate it when my mother told me it’s the thought that counts – it really depends on what they were thinking, is doesn’t it? If the thought is self-serving instead of truly magnanimous, then the thought was misguided. Like a missile that is programmed by a monkey. Odds are it isn’t going to hit the target and someone unintended is going to get hurt. Probably a goat in Africa.
You are right on Mark – for the gift to have value (the whole point of gift giving in the first place) the gift must have some value for the receiver. Projecting your beliefs should never be a part of gift giving, nor should it be a moment for anything other than making someone else happy, on their terms.
This whole situation has really gotten my goat (sorry). I think if everyone was a tad more mindful of their immediate world (before trying to save the rest of it), things would be a whole lot better for everyone. That means taking the time to really know your significant other, your family, your friends and the businesses in your own backyard. Great things can happen if we’d all focus more on “being local” in every sense. How can someone call themselves a friend and not get that a vegan would take great exception to such a gift? It’s OK to be mindful of what is going on in Africa, but not when the self serving pat on the back is at the expense of staying “real” with your immediate friends and family.
Perhaps if the United States stayed more local things would improve here. How can you be surprised about goat gifts when the United States is spending zillions of (soon-to-be-worthless) dollars on everything abroad, but avoids fixing her debt problems at home? It seems Uncle Sam has acquired the bad habit of giving unsolicited goats to other people and sticking us with the bill. As far as I can recollect, from sea to shining sea doesn’t include the Suez Canal.
Darling Mark, Boy and Girls, maybe we can’t change the whole wide world, but we can change our immediate world for someone or something by starting with what’s right in our own back yard. Ask someone close – or even yourself – what do you want, value, and cherish? What has meaning, personal meaning to them (or you) right now? Now go and get it!
Have a naughty day!