giving and receiving

It’s less than a month until Christmas, and that means, of course, that I need to get my gift-giving ass in gear. I still haven’t even made out our list of who needs to be given stuff and what yet, so I’m feeling a little behind. But I’m not too worried. I think that, overall, I’m a pretty good gift-giver. It’s how I was raised.

My parents, my dad especially, like to give presents and celebrate occasions and holidays. I was taught to give greeting cards to close relatives on holidays from Valentine’s Day to Halloween. My my mom would give both me and my dad presents on Japanese Boy’s Day, and my dad would give her a gift on Japanese Girl’s Day. [I still get a card, if not a present, from them on Boy’s Day, though I’m way past boy—this past year was an awesome origami Starship Enterprise made out of a dollar bill—and now my girls are happy to get presents from Grandma and Grandpa on Girl’s Day.] And I’m still scarred for life from the time my dad thought it would be hilarious to give my mom and me presents on April Fool’s Day and have me open the gift meant for my mother—lingerie. Yeah.

Anyway, I enjoy giving my loved ones presents, thinking about what they’d like that they might not have thought of themselves, or finding that special match, or just giving them something they’ve wanted but haven’t gotten for themselves. Sure, I’ve given my share of mismatches or duds, but that’s just how it is. It all evens out in the end.

But receiving, that’s another story. I supposed one might call me “difficult to shop for.” And the main reason is that I don’t really like to say, directly, what I want, especially when asked, directly, what I want. It just feels weird to me, somehow, even thoughI know that those asking really want to know so they can get me something I’ll like. Sometimes, I’ll give titles of books and CDs I want, that’s easy. But it’s the higher ticket items, or the “special” presents, that I sometimes balk at specifying. [And I can hear my dad laughing and pointing out that I had no trouble telling him when we “needed” a new stereo or DVD player or TV or even car—but somehow my strange mind categorizes things for family differently than things for just me.]

When the iPod first came out, and I was asked if I wanted one, I balked, demurred, said no, I didn’t need one, didn’t want one. If they really wanted to give me one, they could just give me a generic MP3 player, that was fine. And then when I finally admitted that it wasn’t enough and needed to upgrade, I said, still balking at asking for more, that an iPod Shuffle was fine. Even though they were asking, they were wanting and willing to give me the more expensive and state-of-the-art item. [And writing this I feel even more ridiculous, all #firstworldproblems, LOL.] Finally, I said yes, I would like a real iPod. The reason my wife had an iPhone for a long time before I did was, again, me saying no, really, it’s okay, I don’t need one, I don’t want one. And then, when I finally do go ahead and say, yeah, sure, give me one of those, and make it the big/top-of-the-line/most-expensive one while you’re at it, I feel like karma bites me in the ass—when my folks gave me a new computer for my birthday and asked what size monitor I wanted, I said, sure, why not, get the big one, which of course will not fit inside my desk hutch by mere eighths of an inch, but which I didn’t know until I unpacked the thing. It now sits where it always sits, just in front of the hutch.

So, if you really wanna give me a present, don’t be discouraged if you ask what I want and I say “I don’t know” or “I don’t need anything, it’s okay.” Just as I like giving, I like receiving. I just don’t like to admit it. [Heh.]

About Jason Sperber

Jason Sperber is a stay-at-home-dad of 2 daughters, a writer, and a professional ice cream taster in Bakersfield, California. Once upon a time, he was an OG dadblogger at daddy in a strange land and co-founded Rice Daddies, the seminal group blog by Asian American dads. He is a co-founding writer of, and is the resident hapa Trekkie at, The Nerds Of Color. Follow him on Twitter at @dad_strangeland and on Instagram at @jasonsperber.
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1 Response to giving and receiving

  1. superha says:

    Lingerie. Wow. Not sure how I’d feel if that were my parents. That’s just stuff you can’t unsee. 😉

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