Have you seen the commercial that’s been airing lately? The one where the well-meaning husband surprises his loving wife on Christmas morning with a car, a Lexus I believe, wrapped in a bow? I hate this commercial.
I hate this commercial for so many reasons. First, I would be so upset if my husband went behind my back, bought a luxury car, and then tried to present it to me as a gift. How do I respond to this? “Thanks, honey, for the $500 a month reminder of a gift I didn’t want”? Or perhaps “That was so sweet of you to decide for me that I need a new car when the one I drive is perfectly fine”? Maybe “Wow, you got me an increase in our insurance rates and maintenance costs! Just what I’ve always wanted”? Seriously, though, I can’t imagine that anyone would be happy with getting a monthly payment as a gift. It’s insulting.
Let’s explore this point a bit more. To me, a gift is something that is paid for (the method of payment is discussion for another time). I would not be happy with a gift that came with a payment attached. Especially a payment for 4-6 years! Since we have joint finances, I would feel that I was paying for my own gift every single month. This would make me angry and annoyed and unable to enjoy the car at all. This totally defeats the purpose of a gift.
Second, it’s completely sexist. It essentially implies that men are incapable of doing anything sweet that is both personal and meaningful and that women only want expensive, show-offy type gifts. It also implies that men have complete autonomy to make major purchases and that their wives are submissive enough to jump into their arms and shower them with gratitude. The only commercial I find more sexist is those obnoxious Yoplait yogurt commercials. You know, the one where the woman is patronizingly talking to one of her friends about how she lost weight eating cake (the yogurt) and the husband goes spelunking in their fridge to find it and she condescendingly says “Babe? What are you doing?” Yeah, I hate that commercial, too.
Third, it also implies that big, lavish gifts are the only way to make a woman happy. I’m a woman and as such, I feel totally qualified to say that that is a completely false stereotype. Yes, there are women who enjoy that but on the whole, women are much happier with gifts that show thought and care rather than a huge price tag. Don’t get me wrong, diamond earrings would be lovely but I’d be much happier with gifts that a) we can afford and b) show that my husband actually listens to me when I talk. Believe me when I say that finding The Muppets under our tree would mean a lot more than finding a key to a Lexus.
In my opinion, there are only two ways that receiving a car as a gift is acceptable. One, if the couple sits down, discusses the purchase and agrees on a price, it is fine if one surprises the other (but then, if they’re discussing it, it’s not necessarily a surprise. But I digress…). Two, if they happen to have about $40K just laying around, undesignated, then by all means, purchase a car. I’m honestly a little jealous if that’s the situation.
I believe that lavish, expensive gifts like cars have their time and place. However, under the Christmas tree is not that time or place.
What do you think about cars as gifts?