The shopping malls are getting more and more crowded,and we might already think twice about entering one if it were not for the fact that we now have only twenty one days to Christmas.
What are all these people doing? A few of them are buying food, some of them are looking for clothes, and the rest are searching frantically for the fitting present.
Some clever beings started making things last Summer and I’m sure these self made gifts are the most widely appreciated. There is nothing to criticise in something that has taken a person precious time and thought,even if you wouldn’t be seen dead in Aunt Louises’ knitted socks,or blow your nose in a lace edged handkerchief.
Why do we then bother to give presents,if it is always an extremely risky business.?
Helmuth Berking,Professor of Sociology at the University of Darmstadt in Germany has been scientifically examining the theme “Present Giving” for many years. His book Shenken.Zur Anthropologie des Gebens, published by the Campus-Verlag,Frankfurt. is a standard work on the phenomenon.
Professor Berking sees present giving as pure ambivalence.With it we can express a number of feelings- Love, Trust,Hate, Sympathy,Empathy and Aggression. But as giver we can never change the fact that the receiver will give a completely new interpretation to the situation.
Present giving he thinks is positive,but as it is a high risk procedure, but certain rituals are held, for example,by disappointment we show good manners and at least act as if we were thrilled.
Giving can also be an important form of “Impression Management” I make a picture of myself and a picture of you,and the two must fit together. Risky but exciting.
Why do we bother then if it is such a risk. Because it is an everyday thing,but totally underrated.
Why? Because it is the key to an enormous area of social relationships.
Do we give presents for personal gain? Berking thinks that is the core of it. We live in a society where economic profit and rational behaviour is the central interpretation pattern. Present giving is really an economical stupidity, but we also live in a culture of mistrust that has to do with the economising of our society. It misuses the economy of present giving and symbolic importance. We live with the idea “Buy one get one free” and are forever asking ourselves ” If he gives me something what does he want from me”.
What have badly chosen gifts for consequences? Obviously if Mr Smith gives his wife perfume for Christmas ten years in a row,then Ms Smith should seriously wonder what is wrong with their marriage.
Women do give differently. Age plays a role too. Men also give very much with a goal in mind,especially when it comes to conquering someone of the opposite sex.
Presents usually turn out to be something unnecessary that lie around for years, but later when found are feelings to be touched,even remembrances to be touched.
Here lies their real importance.