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So a few years ago my wife and I decided that we were no longer going to bring birthday gifts for birthday celebrations. I would love to tell you that my thoughts were as well developed then as they are now and that I made a concientious decision. The truth is that we were both in grad programs (her masters, me Ph.D.) and between that the kids activities and school, and other roles we had at our church, work, etc. Time just became a precious commodity and taking time to shop on top of attending the party felt like 'doin tha most (spelling is intentional here)" ,tha most. So we made a choice do we just not go or do we go but not bring a present. We chose the latter. And while time efficiency was how it started, the response that often happened when we did this led to a more principled stand.
Now when I say response, I am not saying anyone explicitly said anything. But it would be the subtle micro-responses. A frown when they see no gift, a "hey the gifts go over there" when we arrived, or the "which one did you all bring" statement to my wife and I.
And while I understand why people were confused by our lack of gift giving it made me think about the concept overall.
What these people were actually saying (or implying) is, "you being here is not enough". If you are here you need to give me, my kid, my wife, etc. something to show value. Show that you value them and that they value you. You see in this scenario the value is being placed on the gift. The object, the material. And that is not surprising in a materialistic, capitalism society. But that also doesn't mean it is right. I think a better object for value is people.
Think about it this way, if a person is at a birthday party with lots of gifts but no people that is a SAAAD BIRTHDAY PARTY!!! But if that same person has 100s of people show up for their party you may not even notice whether they have gifts or not. This is because we know people are more valuable than stuff. But in the midst of a birthday celebration we somehow lose this and think if there is no gift than there is no value.
But if I don't come to your party, then you don't a gift and you have an empty party so why don't we begin to remember an even practice shifting the value from the gift to the people who came to see you on your special day. That to me is a better way to view thing.
BUT HEY THAT'S JUST ME HATING !!!!
Dr. Wes Parham