Should we stop giving at Christmas?

Moving on from my earlier blog post on the meaning of Christmas, I wonder if The Grinch has got to Ghanaian President, John Atta Mills this Christmas? He’s refusing to accept Christmas presents from well-wishers this year, because he says they may be intended to corrupt him. A spokesman for the President said he felt it was better not to accept them, as the givers may be seeking something in return.

It seems that Mr Atta Mills isn’t the only one with an axe to grind on the giving of presents. Joel Waldfogel has provided an economic argument for not giving gifts this year. His theory – outlined in ‘Scroogenomics’ – illustrates how consumer spending generates vast amounts of economic waste. He goes to far as to say it’s an an orgy of value destruction’.

His senitments are shared by The Maryland Gazette. In the paper’s Editorial, it says: ‘There’s nothing wrong with gift-giving, as long as we don’t let it blind us to the more important things that no one has marked off 50 percent at the mall’. Prospect magazine has gone along with the same line.

Neil Reyolds clearly thinks the opposite. He says there is real economic value in giving.

So where do you stand on this? No doubt many of you will be giving presents to your nearest and dearest this year. Why is that? Do you feel obliged to do so? Are you hoping for great gifts in return? What are your real motives for gift giving? Go on …. be honest!

21 Responses to “Should we stop giving at Christmas?”

  1. 1 patti in cape coral
    December 24, 2009 at 15:11

    I don’t think we should necessarily stop giving, but maybe we need to change the way we give things. As I said on another thread, the years I haven’t had money for gifts I did other things, like fix my sister’s fence, or help paint my mom’s house. I’ve also gotten more practical when I do buy gifts. I saw my co-worker lose her umbrella to a heavy wind, so she got an umbrella from me this year. Those things are an act of giving that don’t cost much money, but cost you in time and effort, which sometimes show much more how much you care for the person. Giving doesn’t have to be corrupting, commercial, or beyond your means.

  2. December 24, 2009 at 15:13

    if we cannot accept gifts, we stifle the good impulses of others. people need to be encouraged to give without any expectation of return. in fact, the human heart is most fulfilled when it is giving. that is what love is all about and we should love each other purely. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres,” 1Corinthians 13:4-7. GOD gave us this kind of LOVE when he gave us HIS one and only SON, JESUS CHRIST, who sacrificed HIMSELF out of HIS great love for us, so that we would be saved. accept the gift and learn what love really is. Merry CHRISTMAS

  3. 3 Chedondo, Johannesburg
    December 24, 2009 at 16:20

    The world economy is in a bit of a chill at the moment and what with the positively hostile weather you people (in Europe) are experiencing, it’s natural for people to be a little grumpy. In order that we remove all suspicions about our motives, I propose that we defer this debate to August 2010. Hopefully we will all be in a lighter frame of mind, our favorite team will have won the soccer world cup, the economy will be okay and all bankers will be in jail.

  4. 4 t
    December 24, 2009 at 17:33

    I was wondering when the next anti-Xmas-gift books were coming out :).

    Buit on an emotional level, can you name one person that hates to get gifts? That’s like the old joke about the person who hates to get mail. IMO, they’re all reall bad liars. People love the attention that comes from someone else thinking about them. And what gift you give and how much you spend on it is nobody’s else’s business but yours.

    December 24, 2009 at 17:48

    There is nothing wrong with giving if you have nothing wrong either in receiving. I give nearly all the time small things like a cup of tea at the canteen, lunches to people who I presume to be my friends. Sometimes I may part with some money to the beggers and even some loony people. The latter have taught me something about their life. They are not demanding and make do with an explanation when I do not want to give. Funy enough there is even mutual respect. Today I did give some small cash to a woman who needed to spend something for her kids. She has since sent me an sms with a lovely prayer.
    Giving is voluntary and depends on the giver. During this Christmas there is none offering gifts to me and I do not have anyone in mind to give a gift. Yes give all the time not necessarily during Chrismas when you feel like. Remember that the tree happily gives to you the fruit so that its species may live as you disperse its seeds in fertile grounds where it may not go itself. My last gift today is this: HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL MY COLEAGUES & ON THIS BLOG & TO THEIR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS.

  6. 6 t
    December 24, 2009 at 18:20

    Just heard on the BBC World Service about the origins of Xmas in the U.K. For all of you who think it’s overrated, blame Queen Victoria! It’s HER fault :)!

  7. 7 Jennifer
    December 24, 2009 at 19:10

    I don’t think people should stop giving gifts at Christimastime. However, maybe people should stop judging gifts by their cost and be more content with the thoughts behind a gift. The same for those that are giving gifts-it shouldn’t be an attempt to impress someone by how much you spent. It should be that you thought of that person and picked a present that reflects them and who the are to you.

    When I give gifts, it’s because I want to. I enjoy making other people happy, especially those I care about and letting them know that I thought about them. For me, the reward of that is enough!

  8. 8 Sally
    December 24, 2009 at 19:35

    I have encouraged my family to embrace the spirit of the season by GIVING, not BUYING. We have decided to give to charity instead of buying each other presents.

  9. 9 Bert
    December 24, 2009 at 22:15

    As long as I’ve been alive, I have been told at Christmas time that “Christmas is too commercial.” That’s what people are supposed to say.

    But it’s not “too commercial” in our family. We give and receive gifts, and it’s always a lot of fun. And my favorite gifts are almost never expensive ones. Just things I want, but cannot justify buying on the spur of the moment. So I anticipate them for many months and then am happy to get them on the appointed day.

    Impulse buyers may be “incapable” (or so they claim) of operating this way. But as for most things, a little bit of self restraint can be a wonderful thing.

    Everyone have a very Merry Christmas!

  10. 10 mat hendriks
    December 25, 2009 at 01:15

    Gifts have give joy and so should the intention be.
    When this is the intention- gifts are at Christmas- welcome.

    When the intention is to become even a bigger/greater/larger
    gift sooner or later in return-
    then it is not a gift but an investment.
    Investments are not done during Christmas time.

    By the way ,corruption is taking something from your own people.
    In Africa as everywhere with many poor people, a crime against humanity-and- so against Christ.

  11. 11 dave
    December 25, 2009 at 02:23

    believe it or not, some people actually just feel awkward receiving gifts.. especially bad ones. I’m all for gift-giving – don’t get me wrong.. I just think that the pressure put on by this arbitrary date is a demonstration of collective insanity. Sure a lot of people have a good time with it, but wouldn’t it be better if we gave gifts based on pure motivation, rather than complying with what TV tells us we should be doing..

    just seems kinda weird.

  12. 12 vintner
    December 25, 2009 at 03:43

    I think Christmas should be the day – acknowledgement of the one whose birthday it is, a tree trimmed, a pleasant, simple meal shared between friends, gifts made with one’s own hands and presented with hugs to those for whom one cares, and a vow to act everyday with more love for humanity. I say this to you as an old man; life is not permanent and it is easier than you can possibly imagine to let those whom you love escape without hearing it from your lips,

  13. 13 Ronald Almeida
    December 25, 2009 at 04:22

    Hey come on, have a heart! The kids will have only their own birthdays to look foward to all year round.

  14. 14 Vijay Pillai
    December 25, 2009 at 10:18

    accept all gifts and distribute to poor.that is the correct way to appreciate gifts and not treat it as asking for favour.it is all in the mind.also make sure dont accept any gifts in future at other occations and lead a simple life like gandhi.one can set example not living in luxury and make corruption a thing of he past. if singapore can be a corruption free country, ghana can set example for rest of africa as a singapore of africa.

  15. 15 Elias
    December 25, 2009 at 19:17

    To give some one a gift you believe will reallybe appreciated especially a family member, a friend or someone in need is enough of a reward for the giver, without expecting something in return.
    In the case of the Ghanain President John Atta Mills he prefers not to receive gifts as he strongly believes in not giving gifts himself.

  16. 16 t
    December 25, 2009 at 19:23

    Absolutely not. It’s more a matter of maybe being a little more creative in your gifts.

    Can’t remember the name of the group. But it’s based in London. And the idea is this. You see a need. You raise the necessary funds. And you solve it. It can be anything from buying a homeless person a meal to helping them pay their heating bill for a month. Don’t wait for the bureaucracy. Just lowkey positive action. And then move on.

    Anybody know the name of these guys?

  17. 17 Mark Longton
    December 25, 2009 at 20:14

    I think giving is a wonderful thing and I agree with T, that it is about creative giving. It shouldn’t be about spending money on things that have no long-term value, and it is the latter that makes us very unsure about the correctness of giving at Christmas.

  18. 18 Tom K in Mpls
    December 26, 2009 at 18:07

    What John Atta Mills did has nothing to do with the Christmas spirit, and is commendable. An active step to eliminate corruption. I am against the commercialization of Christmas. In the US news, reporters and politician state how important it is to our economy. To my that is just plain wrong.

    The origin of Christmas is a religious celebration. Anything more than that, to me, is on the scale of misuse to perversion.

  19. December 26, 2009 at 21:17

    Certainly not. It’s the one time of the year when collectively there’s an opportunity to yes, spend money, but also think about others. There’s a creeping malaise in eroding tradition which needs to be countered too. If you don’t want to celebrate Christmas, fine but stop groaning on about other people who do. If you don’t want to spend money on others, fine, if you can’t be bothered, fine, if you have no money to spend, fine, if you’re not ‘big enough’ to talk over differences you have with relatives, fine, although perhaps you should think the unthinkable, have a good, hard look at yourself, yes, yourself, – and maybe introduce yourself to the word ‘tolerance’. It’s also interesting how many people claim they have no money for other people, including their own children, but still manage to find enough to spend on booze down the Pub. If you don’t like Christmas, it’s more a reflection on YOU, rather than anything else. By the way HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

  20. 20 Cathy, Singapore
    December 28, 2009 at 16:25

    On a personal level gifts of time or presents are always welcomed.

    But on a political level, he’s got a point there where gifts are concerned. Perhaps they should give more of their time in volunteering for a good cause for their country rather than spend their money on something he can do without.

  21. 21 Victor Mills
    December 30, 2009 at 16:43

    Gifts by their nature are not bad. However,the good old book says” If your right hand will lead you to sin cut it off” So I think the good old professor knows what he is talking about when he is rejecting gifts this year.

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