Hello my friends! With the holidays just around the corner I’ve started thinking a lot about the meaning of the holidays, giving and receiving. This is definitely a time of year where people think a lot about giving back and helping those in need. I know, in the past, I’ve donated to Toys for Tots, dropped a few coins in the ringing Santa bins and have tried to focus on the meaning of the holidays rather than just the materialistic aspect. One thing that I’ve noticed a lot recently though is the more forced giving and I am questioning whether that is ok?
What I mean is, for example, when we lived in NYC, every year we would receive a list of all the people that worked in our building from the doormen to the guys who dealt with the packages in the back to the maintenance staff, etc. Based on that list, we were expected to provide tips for everyone and I mean everyone. Now, don’t get me wrong, I genuinely appreciated the doorman helping me hail a taxi, the package guys bringing my packages to my door so I didn’t have to carry them and the maintenance staff for being on call to fix all my problems. I was more than happy to give these people something extra around Christmas! But what I didn’t like was the expectation that we were required to tip every single person in the building, even if we had never met them or they never did anything specifically to help us (e.g., office administrator whom we never met or spoke to).
Now, in Brazil, we don’t get a choice! Every single person is required to be paid a 13th salary, basically an extra month’s salary paid out in December. It isn’t even considered a gift, rather an entitlement. So, on top of that, you are then expected to get everyone some kind of gift (usually these gift baskets you can buy at the stores here).
Then, of course, there are all the gifts you buy for random people in your life and the extra cash you give people who are in the service industry around the holiday. By the end of it all, I’ve spent more money getting gifts or giving money to virtually strangers than my own family! Sometimes I end up feeling more resentful than happy to give at this time of year and it has to do with the expectation of giving and receiving rather than having it come from a genuine place. Genuinely, I would love to tip and buy presents for and donate to the people and charities who really help me, care for me or are in need but I find that so often it is just the opposite.
Maybe I’m being too cynical but does anyone else feel pressure to give even when you are not sure it is warranted or maybe it goes too far? Does the pressure to give sometimes take away from your feeling of the holiday spirit and the meaning of the holidays? If you could change how we handle giving and receiving at this time of year, would you?
I wish it was more of an around the year thing. Like, when someone does something nice for you, you tip them then rather than one time of year where you spend a ton of money on people you don’t really know very well.
Definitely, with you on this one. Not to sound like Scrooge, but it takes away from “giving” when it is actually “requiring.” To really give is to provide support to those who need it through generosity of your time. Not Bah Humbug – instead a genuine Merry Christmas when give of ourselves!