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This entry will not be a demonstration of any kind of philosophical or existential profundity that the homograph "present" might invite... No, it's a cry for help! I say this facetiously, but no, really... Help me mamas!
In college I took an Intro to Sociology class and one of the assignments was to give two oral presentations to the class over the course of the semester, summarizing an article from this random sociology compilation book we had. Each student drew articles on which they would deliver their presentations out of a hat. I pulled "The Sociology and De-sexualization of the Gynecological Exam" and "The Social Norms of Gift Giving."
The former was actually quite thought-provoking [and super awkward to present to the class]. But that's not relevant to today's topic.
The latter was interesting enough... and brings me to this month's insecurity for me:
The expectation of gift giving (or not) at my daughter's upcoming first birthday party.
"Gifts" is not my Love Language, but I for one LOVE giving gifts to other people. I get excited about it. I want to tell them what it is before they open it. I want them to open it right away. I want to put my heart and soul into each gift whenever I can.
What I don't love is giving a gift to someone because I felt like I just had to.
As a new parent, I've thought about this quite a bit, anticipating party invitations for Penelope's little friends over the years. What if she has lots of friends and lots of parties... Do I have to spend $20 bucks (or more?) on every kid? cha-ching! But I don't want her to be the one who always brings a crappy present. I'm new at this. How do you moms manage this in a graceful and loving way without going insane or breaking your bank?
The whole ritual of a child opening presents in front of everyone at his or her birthday party makes my stomach churn. The materialism, the reactions, the discomfort when the recipient likes one thing more than another, the other kids wishing it would end, the party being centered around "things." Am I off base here?
So cut to Penny's birthday preparations...
I learned in etiquette that you are never supposed to address the subject of gifts on a formal invitation (whether you don't want them, do want them, or what you want, etc), especially for weddings.
I get it, it's rude to "assume" people want to know if you want them to give you a gift or not.
But am I wrong that there's a little bit of a relief in seeing where someone is registered so you can buy them just what they wanted, or seeing a simple "No Gifts Please" in fine print at the bottom of an invite.
Expanding on that thought, my anxiety is this: I don't want anyone to come or not come to my sweet baby girl's birthday party (or any party I ever throw) with a notion about bringing a gift that makes them uncomfortable. I don't want to encourage any kind of 'it's my birthday which means I get presents' mentality in my children. I also don't want to discourage giving birthday gifts to my child to anyone who might want to love on her in that way. And... we could use a few new things around here...
I didn't address it on the invitation, and I don't know what I would have written if I had. I'm all over the place about this.
Am I overthinking?
What a ramble, my time is more than up. Make that ten-minute-Friday. Sorry, Lisa Jo. What a hot mess my ratt-a-tatt-typing fingers are.
I'm hoping lots of wise mamas from FMF will rain down some comment wisdom and encouragement on this topic for this birthday-party rookie. TGIF, and Much Obliged!