Saturday, January 3, 2009

Goodbye Christmas

The new year is here and Christmas has disappeared. How quickly that happens! This photograph was taken by a dear friend in Cornwall. A great photographer, he has a talent for spotting interesting but discarded objects, The Christmas hat on top of the bag depicting cuddly pets is particularly sad. What presents did the bag contain and what happened to them? And where are they now? For psychotherapists the giving of presents is a difficult issue, because we consider it a children's matter. When we are young we delight in receiving gifts. But when we are adults, exchange of gifts can be troublesome. For example, what is expected in return? The fine anthropologist Marcel Mauss explains this well in his seminal work, The Gift. When all is said and done, most gift exchanges may as well never have happened, because they signify some other relationship involving expectation, demand, response, reciprocity and social obligation.