Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gift-giving at Christmas: It's a Girl Thing

Economists say, according to the Wall Street Journal, that gift-giving is inefficient, and gift-giving represents an inefficient reallocation of resources.

No doubt it is. But there are important social values other than efficiency. That is why societies do pot-latching, and that is why we have the annual orgy of Christmas gift-giving.

The first thing to understand about gift-giving is that it is a girl thing. As a man, I admit that I didn't really understand this until I read an article years by an angry divorced man complaining about his ex's compulsive and expensive "gifting" with her women friends.

If you get your head out of your computer and out of the politics and the sports pages you will discover that the women around you are always involved in thinking about getting gifts for their women friends. And then doing something about it. You eventually get to realize that women absolutely love giving and receiving presents.

Men not so much. Thinking and shopping for presents interferes with the manly business of fighting wars, designing software, battling for market share, bingeing on TV series, etc. That is why, during the Christmas season, women constitute the majority of shoppers, right up until the last couple of days before Christmas.

More research is needed, but my guess about womanly gift-giving is that it bonds together the community of women -- in which every woman is engaged in a life and death struggle. I suspect that the gifting mends the relationships and eases the serious stresses that women constantly experience with each other.

Also, and this particularly applies to Christmas, women absolutely love seeing children laugh and jump for joy. You may understand the whole Santa thing as an amazingly complex special forces operation designed to make children laugh and jump for joy for 10 minutes on Dec 25. Go figure.

Yes, it's true that gift-giving is inefficient, but that´s not the point. Efficiency applies in the marketplace, in the commodification of values and labor and all that. But the point of gift-giving is that it makes women happy. There is nothing worse for humankind than women that feel unappreciated and taken-advantage-of. It's the old saw: if she is happy, everyone is happy; if she is unhappy, nobody is happy.

OK, so gift-giving is about efficiency, after all. It's an amazingly efficient and effective way of making women happy.

Now there is a big takeaway here for you guys. The fact is that most men only get into the gift-giving mood when they are courting a woman, working on getting her to fall in love with you so you can get inside her pants. When that important objective is achieved then men tend to ease off on the gift-giving. This is a mistake; it makes her feel taken-for-granted, and it may be responsible for all the ills and the sorrows of the world.

But there is an easy, no worries way to keep the gift giving going, and avoid the taken-for-granted trap. Whenever you stop by the grocery store buy her some flowers and bring them home. I don't know why, but women love flowers, any flowers, and flowers make women feel loved and appreciated.

Now go out and get some flowers and make sure that everyone thinks you love Christmas. No Scrooges, please.

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