A Minimalist Among Us


I have never liked getting gifts. It all started with the seemingly benign birthday party. Extremely introverted and shy, the thought of people staring at me as I opened a present was horrifying.  I would go through the motions and run away as soon as the torture was over.

We were poor enough when I was a kid so one might  think I just got used to not having much. But I certainly remember making a wish list of toys at Christmas. So up until some point I still wanted things.

I remember getting a wrist watch for one birthday. I also remember losing it a couple days later. I remember that I didn’t like that feeling. Now, I’m a fairly sensitive person and maybe I felt much worse than I really should have, but I did feel bad and I still remember so perhaps it had a much more significant effect than I ever thought.

I guess I didn’t like the idea of feeling bad about the loss of an inanimate object. Things would be lost and things would break. Caring too much about them seemed a bad investment.

The more recent gift aversion comes from an anti-consumption attitude, the attitude that there is really already enough crap in the world. If you’ve ever gone estate saling, you’ll know that you find houses filled with the most amazing array of objects. The same with antique stores and flea markets and garage sales. The amount of stuff piling up from yesteryear is staggering.

Then you walk into Walmart and you see the most amazing array of objects, tomorrow’s estate sale and flea market fodder. The avalanche of collected crap chasing us through history is staggering. One day our lives will be smothered by such accumulation.

But gifts aren’t bad. Gifts are usually outward signs of affection. I don’t want to rain on that parade. I’m a minimalist, not the Grinch.

So when I give a gift I make sure it’s a consumable. And almost always it’s food as opposed to other consumable like toilet paper and paper towels, though those might be good gifts for the right person. If I had my way I would just give everyone nummy chocolate. But being the good gift-giver I am I tailor it to the person. I might even give the right person a fruit cake.

Do I still accept presents? Surely. Refusing a gift insults the giver. So if you’re asking, I like dark chocolate.

About joegergen

To evoke a smile. That's all. Author of "Methane Wars: A Fable" and "Lear's Fool" as well as various poems and some these painting things as well.
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