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Gifts. [Oct. 8th, 2006|10:34 pm]
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I have a lot of posts queued up that never seem to have a good time for posting; it always seems like someone's going to think it's purely about them. Luckily, a situation[0] arose today which sparked some potentially interesting thoughts but without being anything anyone would get their knickers in a twist about, so I can post the thoughts now without upsetting anyone.

[0] For the curious: I wrote some code a while ago — unasked — for a project that I'm not directly connected with, and sent it over to someone who was connected with it. I found out today that they don't want it. No big deal.

Anyway, on to the thoughts. They're about gifts.

If I give you something, it's yours. It's so thoroughly yours that you can do whatever you like with it. You can love it and cherish it for the rest of your life, or you can throw it away the next day. It's yours. The gifts I give don't have attached conditions; I wouldn't consider them to be gifts if they did.

I would be more upset by finding out that out of guilt you'd held on to something you really didn't want, than by finding out you'd got rid of it.

I rarely give presents at “expected” times. You're extremely unlikely to get a $religious_holiday present from me, and you're not all that likely to get a birthday present. What you are likely to get is an “I saw this and thought you would like it” present, or an “I thought you needed something nice to happen” present.

Sometimes, of course, these occasions coincide (and then circumstances conspire against my actually delivering the thing — for example, I still have an undelivered birthday present for jvvw, somewhere; oh, and a Christmas card for rejs written in about 2001).

So I wondered how the rest of you feel about this sort of thing. I made a little poll, but I would love to hear more in comments. This is also a rare public post, so feel free to point people at it. If interestingness ensues, I may make more public ones.

Apologies to mahogany and rjw1, who answered the first version of this poll; I didn't realise until I looked at your answers how difficult the commas in the first version made it to read. Please please fill it in again!

Poll behind cut, as huge.Collapse )

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[User Picture]From: sashajwolf
2006-10-09 05:16 pm (UTC)
My answers assume that (a) the person had not specified in advance that they did not want gifts that could not be given/thrown away (as envoy does, for instance, because he has recently done a major decluttering and doesn't want the process to be reversed by well-intentioned givers) and (b) the person is not a partner of mine nor otherwise so close that normal rules of etiquette do not apply.

I would think less of someone if they did any of the things in your second question with intent to wound, but I am assuming that is not the case. I try not to think less of people over well-intentioned etiquette breaches, because there seems to be less and less agreement on what correct etiquette is, so often if someone does something I consider rude, it's because they have either never been taught etiquette or have been taught a different system.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2006-10-10 09:47 pm (UTC)
My answers [...]

Is it a fair summary to say that you're less likely to be made unhappy by not knowing what had happened to an unwanted gift you gave?

I'm kind of bemused by yaqub's answers to the first question (and he hasn't commented so I can't leave him a note to ask him himself); it looks like there's no way to please him!

often if someone does something I consider rude, it's because they have either never been taught etiquette or have been taught a different system.

Yes, I think this is a really important thing to remember.
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[User Picture]From: ali_in_london
2006-10-09 09:52 pm (UTC)
This is one of the reasons I tend to give presents that are consumable (because it's expected that the present will be disposed of) or give several smaller presents instead of one large present (thus increasing the chance that one of the items given will be what the person wanted).

As many other people have commented, I think my unhappiness would stem from finding out that I didn't know a friend as well as I thought I did.

It would also depend on how long ago the gift was given, as peoples needs and interests change (anyone want a set of bongo drums?). Also I am assuming that the gift was not something specifically asked for, which would make the situation more annoying.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2006-10-10 09:48 pm (UTC)
All good points. I think I rather like receiving several smaller presents, and it seems to be a very good giving strategy too.
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[User Picture]From: jvvw
2006-10-12 10:08 pm (UTC)
Has it really been that long since I last saw you? That's bad.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2006-10-13 10:00 pm (UTC)
It has — last time we met up was when you kindly invited me to dinner at your old place. I was meant to come to your birthday thing but didn't make it.

Once I'm back from holiday (30th October) I'll be organising several interesting gatherings at my place; it would be cool if you could make one of them.
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