I think gift-giving is rather awkward, for multiple reasons. I think I’ve always felt like that, even as a kid. Most kids are excited to get gifts (and most adults, too), but I always felt and still feel a tinge of reluctance and timidity in those situations, regardless of whether I’m the giver or receiver.
I think part of it stems from anticipation. There’s the anticipation of the gift-giver, especially when they have something they think the receiver will really like. They imagine that the person will be incredibly excited and enthusiastic upon receiving the gift. However, and especially in the cases of overly optimistic and anticipatory people like me, I think it’s impossible for any reaction to live up to the expectations of the giver.
There’s also the anticipation of the receiver. In most cases, especially among adults, there shouldn’t really be any expectation on what to expect for a gift—but inevitably there is, in one form or another. It could be a very vague expectation, as simple as “this gift will be great!” but still the mind wanders, and it’s difficult to avoid a let-down, even if the gift truly is incredible.
Then there’s the show. Now here, I can only speak for myself with the suspicion that others feel the same way. I’m not a naturally emotionally responsive person. I tend to only smile when I’m trying to be polite, and in gift-giving situations things are no different. When opening the gift, I feel all eyes are on me. I already feel a tremendous amount of pressure in preserving polite and indulgent social interactions, but having that anticipatory attention makes things many times worse. Then, I’m forced to react simultaneously surprised and enthusiastic to preserve both the feelings of the giver and to ward off any inference of ingratitude on my end. And of course I’m left struggling, wondering how long I have to keep my smile on before it’s okay to relax to normalcy.
It’s a pain. If it were up to me, I’d do away with receiving gifts. I appreciate the sentiment, but I feel like expected gift-swapping is just a chore people go through. Oddly enough though, I do enjoy giving gifts to people. But I awkwardly request that they open it away from other people.
…yeah, I’m guessing I’m a total weirdo when it comes to this.