May 25, 2008

Gift giving is so much easier this way...

Before marrying Jrex, I used to feel pressured by special events. I know for many people, finding the perfect gift is fun, but for me, it was usually a bit stressful with random times of enjoyment. I'm not a big gift giver. I love receiving them, but would much rather go and have an adventure with someone than receive a gift. Frankly, our apartment is full and we don't really need much.

Koreans, pragmatic and smart people, often skip the gifts for special occasions (it's for the ordinary event of seeing each other that the gifts some pouring forth). For our wedding, his parents chartered a bus and brought up 40 of their friends for the ceremony. Apparently, the Korean-filled bus spent the trip laughing, singing Korean hymns and folk songs and having a great time. They also financed our entire reception. If our Caucasian friends gave us money, it was usually $25. The Korean crowd started at $50 and went up (and this was 11 years ago). We kept a careful list of who gave us how much; that way his parents could give them the same amount when it was time for the friend's child to get married.

For 12 weeks this spring we endured the Dave Ramsey "Financial Peace University" materials with another couple. Ramsey has lots of practical advice, but it's mingled with showmanship and some fuzzy logic. Rather than participate in the big group class run by Smart Girl and her husband, we went through the material with another couple from our church, Bookworm and Hawaiian Girl. They are engaged to be married this summer, and today was her bridal shower. During the financial course, we had lots of discussions about white people vs Asians in terms of gift giving. Hawaiian Girl is ethnically Chinese, Bookworm is Caucasian. He was concerned by the growing guest list, knowing the budget and freaking out about having to figure out a way to pay for it. We explained the Asian way and told him not to worry.

At the shower today, I gave her a card with a pineapple on the front and a check inside. The text read, "Given all our discussions this spring, this seemed like the most appropriate, 'cross-cultural' gift I could give you." She cracked up when she read the card and crowed, "Money!" Most of the other guests were white and had given her gifts, they looked a little puzzled by the inside joke. One of them, another Caucasian woman married to a Korean guy, came over after the gift opening. "Before your marriage, did you ever give cash?" I laughed, "No! But it definitely simplifies life." She grinned her agreement, "I thought about just doing money."

6 comments:

Snickollet said...

I'm not good at giving gifts, either. Occasionally, just the right thing will come to me, but more often than not, I'm at a loss and stressed out.

I, too, appreciate the Asian willingness to just give cash. It never goes out of style . . .

Rachel said...

Yes, cash is definitely easier. . .but then I have to give more than I would normally spend on a gift. So it's a mixed bag, for me. I always like receiving money, however. :)

Interesting post.

mizasiwa said...

mm very interesting post, i used to love buing my friends the perfect gift, im a terrible gift receiver though. also with our current financial climate most people request a "gift in envelope" for weddings and big ocassions. I find now its easier but yes youdo tend to have to give more in the end.
i findi t amazing the traditiono f giving gifts on visits though. That is truly amazing!!

so-yun said...

awesome post! cash is SO much easier! he he. =) i don't know why but my co-workers at my previous job thought it was "rude" to give cash... even when i told them i prefer it! he he

Mama Nabi said...

It's funny but it does eliminate the guessing game and having to include a receipt in case they want to return it... and I hate returning gifts.

I think my sister paid for her honeymoon (her first marriage) with the cash my mom brought from Korea. :-)

scarp said...

So, got your comment. I figured chances were slim to none on you making it to Rochester, but it was worth asking. What we should so is schedule a phone conversation while we can do it for free - although the blogs are nice, it´s just not the same as a good long chat! And I do hope you 2 can come down sometime and visit. You are one (well 2) of a very few that I can actually see making a visit here a reality, and it would be so good to see you both! Plus, you 2 have always hosted me - I need a chance to return the honor. Although, I´d make you cook at least once so I can enjoy the dinner critique :)