I don’t like gift shops, or gift departments within other stores. For one thing, I never see in there anything I want. But, that’s the whole point! It’s not for me. It’s for my friends. However, I think MOST of the people who go into the gift shop don’t want the things the shop is selling, but they think they know someone who does. So that leads me to the conclusion that very few people really want stuff that gift shops sell.
This occurred to me when I’ve gone to gift shops next to other shops. My thoughts go, “If I want something for me, I’ll go in any of these twelve shops, but if I want something for someone else, I’ll go into this one shop.” But if it’s good enough for me to buy for myself, shouldn’t it be good enough for me to buy for someone else? Shouldn’t the stores that have all sorts of stuff that I actually want have stuff that my friends also want? Doesn’t the “gift department” of a grocery store, department store, or other shop, seem like a bit of a catch-all for junk that doesn’t fit into any of their other departments?
It reminds me (if I may be so geeky as to quote The Lord of the Rings in a sociological-type blog post) of the concept J.R.R. Tolkien talks about in The Fellowship of the Rings that hobbits had of a mathom.
It was a tendency of hobbit-holes to get cluttered up: for which the custom of giving so many birthday-presents was largely responsible. Not, of course, that the birthday-presents were always new; there were one or two old mathoms of forgotten uses that had circulated all around the district;
Also, they had a mathom-house which was sort of a museum – a place where they could put these things that people had given them (and re-given, numerous times), when people were tired of giving it as a gift.
There are whole stores devoted to selling you these mathoms. That means there are people who get their living by selling useless stuff and by producing useless stuff. Why? When we have shortages of all kinds throughout this world, why don’t we have people producing more useful stuff?
Also this puts stuff into two hierarchical categories: First, stuff I would buy for myself; and second (and really much lower in price and quality), stuff I would buy for others. This is a pretty selfish view on things, and only fosters my sinful nature. Really, in the Christ-centered life, there should probably still be a hierarchy, but it should be flipped: First, stuff I would buy for my friends (the best stuff), and second (really denying myself all but the barest necessities) stuff I would by for myself.