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Gift Receipt Marriages

December 26, 2010
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During this Christmas season I started thinking about one of the more recent additions to holiday festivities: gift receipts. When I was a youngster (12 or so years ago) gift receipts were not nearly in such demand as they are today. I don’t even think I knew what a gift receipt was; nowadays if you shop for anything in a department store between December 10th and 25th, the cashier will almost always ask if you want a gift receipt with your purchase. All that to say, what, if anything, do gift receipts say about culture? And why is the title “gift receipt marriages”? I’m glad you asked.

What if culture says, “above all else, you should be happy.” What would some of the consequences of that mindset be? Gift receipts. (Before I continue, I’m not saying that gift receipts are bad. I think they can be quite helpful, especially with clothing items that can be hard to size someone for. I’m just pointing out what I think is a sign of American culture.) If I give you a gift that doesn’t suit your fancy, you don’t necessarily have to keep it, you can take it to the store and get something else, if you have the receipt. So receiving a gift isn’t so much about the importance of the act of giving/receiving, it’s about whether or not you are happy with what you were given. But it hasn’t always been this way, it used to be that when you were given a gift you received it with thankfulness because it was a token of someone’s love for you. You didn’t take it in and trade it, even if it wasn’t your favorite. The fact that someone took the time to think of you and buy something for you was enough. That in and of itself was the gift, there didn’t used to be so much of a focus on the object and my personal likes/dislikes. Switching gears a little bit, somewhere between 40 and 50% of marriages end in divorce now. I think divorce has the same mentality as gift receipts (sometimes). If you aren’t satisfied, you don’t have to keep it. Since it’s your God-given “right” to be happy, you must be happy, regardless of some half-hearted vows. We can even preempt that with prenuptial agreements. That cultural mindset is really prevalent in society (the “above all else, you deserve to be happy…and if you’re not, make returns/divorces/etc” mindset) and I think it’s bad. Look at the consequences. Ungrateful people (by and large).

I hope that was cohesive and I didn’t miss my goal.

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