Is Anxiety Ruining Your Joy Of Giving? Turns Out My Friends Have the Cure

gift box

gift boxIt’s got nothing to do with money, but gift-giving is a terrible burden for me. It’s because I’m so lousy at it. At this time of year I start to feel anxious and guilty, in advance, for the bad to mediocre gift-giving I fear I’ll commit this season. Yes, commit.  With regard to poor gift-giving, I am a repeat criminal offender. It’s true. Take the first “Ta-Da” gift I remember giving my daughters, then 7 and 4, at Christmas. As a grand finale to all of their presents under the tree, I had assembled a full 4-appliance kitchen set in the basement – child-life-sized refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, and sink, complete with little pots and pans, little plastic food items (butter, grapes, milk, eggs), dials that turned, doors that opened, plates and cups and forks and knives.  I would have killed for this fab setup as a child!  So I led my daughters down to the basement for a final big surprise, bursting with anticipation of their squeals of pleasure. They would RUN to the kitchen, paw through all of the little accoutrements with glee, open and close doors, begin playing immediately!

Uh, no. Dead silence.

I could almost hear the gears groaning in their little heads… bad gift… this is awful… I thought this was going to be a great surprise… how could Mom think this was wonderful? Oh, Mom looks so sad…  I don’t like it,.. I don’t want Mom to feel bad… I have to fake it… I have to walk toward this boring stuff, say it’s great, say something… “Look, the handles turn,,,” Pick up something. “Hey, grapes… spoons…”

FAN-tastic. Yes, I had given a great, huge, overwhelming, unforgettable gift, the gift that lasts a lifetime. GUILT.

Memories of Bad Gifts Past

Let’s see, there’s a veritable treasure trove here in my memory of fall-flat, come-up-short, what-was-I-thinking gifts. There’s the hideous shirt I sewed for my summer-after-high-school boyfriend out of some god-awful scratchy purple paisley fabric, which frankly I was relieved to never see him wear. Actually I never saw him again, after our first semester away at different colleges. Who knew that 30 years later we would reconnect and end up marrying! Brad claims that the atrocious shirt had no part in the demise of our long-ago relationship, but I’m not so sure.

On to the others: There was the big and expensive vintage toy fire truck I gave to my first husband for his birthday several months after he’d told me a deeply emotional story of being denied this coveted item as a child.  My gifting, meant to be symbolic, funny, and loving, turned out to be, well, none of those things. There was the favorite novel I presented to a friend, who really really does not like the chosen author’s work, and had said so more than once.  (This would sway her!) There was the set of jewelry I gave to my daughter upon her graduation, in retrospect something I realize I would have wanted, but that was totally out of keeping with her tastes and style. There was the exotic cookbook for my sister who doesn’t like to cook anything complicated whatsoever. (This would open her eyes to a whole new world of culinary enjoyment!) Finally, and worst, there was the small throw rug I gave to my older daughter as a super fun gift – to put at the door of her bedroom. Don’t even ask me what I was thinking on that one. This particularly terrible gift has attained iconic status.  When either daughter now receives a gift that misses the mark, she will invariably say, “Oh, it’s OK, mom.  At least it isn’t The Rug.”

So, it’s now the day before Thanksgiving and my goal of having 90% of my gifts ordered online before the holiday is speeding past me like an ambulance on the way to a terrible accident scene. And rather than looking forward to Black Friday as an exhilarating shopping-day challenge, I’m starting to wring my hands with dark dread and mounting (advance) remorse.

My Epiphany On the Eve of Black Friday

So last night on my weekly evening with my walking friends, I had an epiphany. One of the women handles licensing for an eclectic group of artists, and creates fine art prints and other items from their work.  She handed me her smart phone so I could see images from a new collection. As I swiped through them, I was amazed at the complex and striking imagery… and came upon one that suddenly hit me as a perfect gift for my husband – the hardest person of all to buy for.  Brad and I have been lamenting for a couple of years that we have photos and artwork all over the walls of our home, which we love, but there it all sits year after year, unchanged. We chide ourselves: Why don’t we switch things out, retire and rotate, change it up once in a while? Our collection is slowly petrifying into a mausoleum. So this one striking image I found on Becky’s smart phone, displayed as a large framed poster on one wall of our guest bathroom, would be awesome – and a great gift for my husband!

This happy discovery is what led to my epiphany, which is that the more I talk to my girlfriends, the more solutions I find for my problems.  This may seem obvious, I know, but it really struck me at that moment. The women with whom I surround myself tend to have the solutions I seek, and when it comes to finding lovely gifts and even objects for myself, doesn’t it make sense to always look first to my friends and what they do and create and know?  It makes all the sense in the world.

The Women I Know Are The Key to Good Gift Giving

The women I’ve met over the past few years through Women At Woodstock comprise a rich amalgamation of artists, facilitators, creators, producers, finders, and seekers – and all of them are aligned with my tastes or outlook or experience in one way or another. Why not turn to them first for gift-giving inspiration before I turn to Google or Amazon?  And, of course, why not support them in their work as part of the spirit of community that is Women At Woodstock? Of course! Why not?

Announcing the New Women At Woodstock Marketplace

So, following this epiphany, plus requests of late from some of the business owners among our WAW community, I’m launching a Women At Woodstock Marketplace to feature and promote the products and creations of our members (and their friends, of course). And I’m pleased to do so at a time when the holidays are looming and, I’m proud to say, at a point at which my mailing list and web traffic have grown very strong.  (Women At Woodstock’s web traffic just reached a major milestone; our Alexa ranking puts us in the top 250,000 worldwide and the top 51,000 in the US. If that sounds like a strange milestone to brag about, consider that there are more than 644 million active websites in the world, so we’re in the top 4% worldwide.)

Starting on Black Friday – day after tomorrow! – I’ll be featuring a selected business from the Women At Woodstock community in an email blast, and on my new Marketplace Page on this website too. Let’s turn to our own to find wonderful products, receive inspiration, and give support!

If you’re interested in having your business or product featured on the Women At Woodstock Marketplace and in an email blast, click here.  And just a quick note, in the spirit of honesty: There will be a charge for being featured in the WAW Marketplace and email blast. Just letting you know up front. I think you’ll find it’s a fair fee for both of us.


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