#Relationships: Friendship Day Shouldn’t Be All About Buying Gifts But Also About Emotion. Let’s Hype It In Meaningful Ways
Back when I was in school and even college, we celebrated Friendship Day, in the simplest ways possible. We bought either friendship bands or a roll of satin ribbon, which seemed like a more affordable and hassle-free option. Also, you were less likely to run out when unexpected wishes come your way. In a compass box (from those days) are a bunch of friendship bands I have preserved along with some greeting cards – handmade and store-bought. I am a hoarder of these items that represent a memory. A wrinkled bill between the pages of my old diary, an anklet a cutie bought for me in high school from the money he had squirrelled away from his pocket money and more – I have a whole section in my wardrobe that I can go back to. Honestly, if gifting culture didn’t exist, I probably wouldn’t have this tangible gateway to beautiful memories. Cost and value are two different things; while these gifts may have been low on cost, they are high on value for me.
However, these holidays have been criticised extensively for promoting hedonism under the veil of expressions of relationships. For instance, Juliet B. Schor in The Overspent American called Christmas “An orgy of shopping and spending.” According to Schor, Americans are downscaling the commercialisation of celebrations. Most economists are dead set against holiday gifting culture and reducing the entire significance of a day to the commercialisation of it. Unknowingly, these critics are fortifying the very culture they are critiquing – attaching the validity of a holiday to commercialisation of it all. With all that negative banter around Christmas, Friendship Day and Valentines Day etc comes a deterioration in the overall spirit of people wanting to celebrate this festival.
Friendship Day has one leg in materialism but the other is still in emotion
They criticise the store windows filled with holiday special offers, and items being promoted as “gifts” because hey, how dare you pressure us into buying gifts? They say, why can’t these special days be purely about relationships, without any cost? The same people will go and buy themselves an overpriced tub of caramel popcorn while watching movies, buy themselves a new gadget as “reward” for working so hard and indulge in a cheesy pizza after a week of the diet. Yes, Friendship Day, like several other holidays has one leg in materialism but the other is still in the essence of relationships.
What doesn’t have any connection in materialism? People argue we don’t need a day to show that we value them. But what is wrong with dedicating one day to express it a little more? I don’t see anything being lost in that. Don’t we celebrate birthdays? We don’t talk to our friends with love every day; we troll each other and often, we don’t find the mental bandwidth to connect to several of our loved ones regularly. How about taking a day out to drop them a reminder of our love? Commercialisation or not, there’s no reason to stop feeling enthusiastic about these days.
Gifting Isn’t About Capitalism
A study analysed attitudes towards gifting on special occasions and they found some really cool insights. “On the basis of the existing gift-giving literature, the authors assumed that sex, number of children, income and the duration time of shopping influence people’s attitudes towards giving gifts on the one hand and towards buying gifts on the other. These two factors are hypothesised to have a positive effect on the attitude on commercialisation,” the study reads.
Yes, income does impact the emotional response to gift shopping but it’s really not what we assume it to be. Surprisingly, it’s people in higher income groups that find buying gifts a tedious activity. “Higher income groups are less favourable towards buying gifts…the time burden is an important factor in this respect. Higher incomes substitute a shortage of time with more expensive gifts,” the research reports. Unfortunately, gifting isn’t about simply picking up the most expensive product you find on the shelf, to save time and effort. That kind of outlook towards gifting is what has tainted holidays to be immersed in excessive consumerism.
Especially in this period, we should understand what gifting truly is. It isn’t about buying your loved ones expensive things. A gift can be store-bought, handmade, or even intangible. According to the labour theory of value, the more effort that goes into something, the more its value increases. The same can be applied to gifting too. It’s more about the emotion and effort behind it.
This is probably why the older generation has been complaining about how they used to craft greeting cards and bands at home. They say millennials just buy it all and hence lack emotion. “Festivals have become more like formalities since the purchasing power of millennial is increasing and of course because they have access to technology. They just log in, scroll down, click and purchase. How do we expect to pull out some emotion of this? Sadly, everything including my favourite time of the year- friendship day has become money-oriented,” Gurnita Das, an entrepreneur was quoted by ANI. But please note that not all of us have the skill and time to make something useful or even decent. We can put the same effort in carefully selecting a thoughtful gift for friends, and that doesn’t subdue our sentiment.
My point is commercialisation isn’t forced on us and we should have full control over our indulgences. Are we placing the blame of our insecurities over consumerism? We feel a rush of dopamine when we occupy the top position as a consumer. It’s us, feeling bad about not buying lavish presents. Honestly, a person who is materialistic won’t ever get over the excess consumerism culture. And those who value emotions more, aren’t a threat to the real sentiment behind relationships.
How to celebrate friendship day in simple ways
Whether you buy a gift, don’t buy a gift or make one – that’s a choice that you need to make according to your budget, time and other factors. Let’s not become agnostic towards these special days by giving in to our insecurities around the gifting culture. Here are some ways to do it, in simple ways.
- Write your friend a letter/email
- Send words of appreciation to friends you’re thankful for
- Send an online greeting card
- Make a social media post celebrating your bond
- Connect with friends you don’t talk to regularly and let them know you are grateful for them too
- Check on the mental health of your entourage
- Send a thoughtful gift (doesn’t have to be expensive)
Let’s take this day out to spread some love because all of us could use some!