On behalf of single women everywhere, I feel like I need to introduce a rather touchy subject: irreconcilable gift distribution amongst friends. I realize this is a topic most people don't usually dare touch on so I decided to really make a fuss about it. I wrote this piece some time ago and found many people were reluctant to get on board despite the glimmer in their eye that revealed their agreement. It may, however, just be a little too taboo to admit out loud.
I was thrilled to see a similar topic addressed on The Michael J. Fox Show on January 2, 2014. As we move on in our lives, we all have different priorities. Sometimes, our friends tend to see "major life events" as engagements, weddings or babies and if our "major life events" deviate to include more career-focused or personal goals, they are not always taken as seriously or celebrated. That disparity can be really damaging to friendships over time.
Now, I am not a greedy friend by any stretch of the imagination. However, over the years, it has come to irk me that I, being single and having no children, have essentially put several children through college in wedding, christening, baby's first birthday gifts, etc. for more friends than I can count. This does not bother me in and of itself but, when I ask for a small donation to one of the many charities I support, I find it offensive when my friends do not partake.
Don't get me wrong, gifts are not given with the expectation that they will be returned but there is a feeling of blatant disregard for and belittling of your existence when your friends fail to recognize a significant event in your life. It is hurtful and a little rude. I am sure it is not intentional but that does not make it okay.
I believe it is done by default because we don't fit into the societal "norms." When people like myself, and many others, don't fit neatly into a little box, people get confused. We know we are supposed to give gifts as a form of support for weddings and babies but we don't know what to do with outliers. Well, here is a hint... do the same thing! Be supportive, take their projects and endeavors seriously and invest in them the way they have invested in you. It is not about money. It is about believing in each other and encouraging one another. I don't believe in marriage but I show up at my friends' weddings. I don't withhold the check and write in the card, "Sorry, 52 percent of all marriages end in divorce so I am going to keep this check for the wine you will inevitably need to comfort you when odds are this thing falls apart." No! I smile, show my love and support for my friends, bring a big, fat check and dance until dawn to bad music (very often in a ridiculous bridesmaid dress). That is just what friends do! So, please do the same for your unmarried, childless friends and support whatever they are doing... even if it may not make a whole lot of sense to you!