To Buy or Not to Buy a Baby Shower Gift

If last month it was flu season, then this month is definitely BABY season! I just got the news that two of my closest friends are both pregnant with baby number two—the irony being that five years ago, they were both pregnant at the same time with baby number one, along with my cousin…which leads me to wonder if she may be pregnant again too. A brother and sister, whose mom used to babysit me when I was little, are both expecting, and I have two co-workers whose wives have delivery dates in May and June.

Meanwhile, I can’t buy a man. Well, I guess I could, but I don’t want to. I practically bought that last one, and he had TWO jobs, despite being too broke to do anything.

But that’s a different story for another day.

Getting back to my co-workers (did I mention one of them just has a baby last January? Needless to say, this one wasn’t planned), the department is throwing a baby shower for them later this afternoon, and everyone is urged, though not required, to buy a gift, give them a piece of change, or do something nice for the dads-to-be.

If I’m being honest, I just want to slap them across the back, give my congratulations, get a free slice of cake and pizza, and go back to my cubicle, where I know it will be deathly quiet with everyone else still at the party.

Does that make me a bitch?

I haven’t even thought about buying a present since the day my boss said, “Let’s give them a baby shower,” a few months ago. While I was enlisted to assist in the initial planning, all we did was sit at a round table in her office and go over food, drinks, a half-baked potential theme idea, what conference room to book, and where the guys were registered. After that, the other admin in the department basically took over the planning, so I let her have it. She was all too excited to be included while I couldn’t care less. Since that short planning session, I’ve only gotten an email invite to the party and a link to the registries, which I’ve looked at maybe twice.

Now that it’s the day of the party, I’m probably the only one who will show up empty-handed, if I even show up at all. I didn’t have the best experience at the last joint baby shower we had (when co-worker who is currently on unplanned baby number 2 was expecting baby number 1 along with another co-worker who was pregnant with baby number 2). The admin at the time had sent out an email to the entire department, saying that she will be collecting baby shower gifts up to a certain date, and also asking if anyone wanted give money to put in a card. I didn’t bother to respond because buying expensive baby gifts for two people was not in the budget, and I didn’t really want to give them money either… which apparently meant I didn’t get to sign the card.

Fast forward to the day of the baby shower, the wife and husband of the two co-workers were both there, the table in the back of the room was piled with gifts along with the two cards that had everyone’s signature but mine, and as I stood off to a corner of the room, nibbling on cookies and mints, I realized that I didn’t have a close relationship with anyone in this department. Being a temp, I am often excluded from a lot of functions. the most recent one being just yesterday when the whole department disappeared for what I thought was a full-time employees only meeting but actually turned out to be a party for my boss who’s getting married in June. I was informed of the leftover cupcakes from the party at 5 that afternoon, after everyone had already gone home.

Which leaves me to ask the question: Why should I waste my money on people who treat me like an afterthought? My mom has pointed out to me that even my friends, whose kids I spend too money on, don’t do the same for me (probably because I don’t have any children, but I guess I see where she’s coming from). And when I think about all the things I’ve got my money tied up in—I’m saving for a cruise to Alaska this summer, I’ve yet to file my taxes because I’m afraid I might owe (as if the government hasn’t taken enough out of my checks), my car is three months overdue for an oil change—expensive baby shower gifts for people I don’t particularly like isn’t really in the budget.

One of my resolutions at the beginning of the year was to save money—because eventually I do want to move out of my mother’s house—but two things will keep me from reaching that goal: impulse spending—buying stuff I don’t need or won’t use but once—and giving when my heart’s not in it.

The Bible says that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). It also says when you give freely, you gain even more (Proverbs 11:24). I’ve thought about, if nothing else, giving my co-workers a card. It’s not too late to make a quick trip to Dollar General on my lunch break. But then I would feel obligated to put money in it, because what’s the significance of a card other than to hold money, right? I learned that the hard way when my granddaddy copped an attitude because I only bought him a card for his birthday. Apparently a card doesn’t count as a present (even though that’s all I got for my birthday three weeks later, but I digress).

But even in buying a card, it would still be a reluctant gesture under the compulsion that everyone else is probably getting them something and that I have to, too. My heart still wouldn’t be in it. Does that make me a bad person? I hope not, because I really don’t mean to be. There are times when giving to someone comes as easily as breathing, and others when the thought just slips my mind until the day of. Like today.

So after all that rambling, have I come to a decision? I think I’ll pass on buying a gift. I don’t want to. I don’t feel lead to from a kind and sincere heart. And feeling obligated to do so because “it’s the right thing to do” and “everyone else is doing it” isn’t a good enough reason.

So what’s left? Will I skip out on the party? Will I go just to mingle for a few minutes, grab some free food, and slip out (who would notice anyway? These people never notice me)? Or will I fade uncomfortably into the background like I did at the last baby shower? The more I think about it, the more I convince myself not to even go. Again, who would notice?