@ prolol Just wanted to second your point about psychogenic symptoms. As medical professionals become better trained to consider a psychologic etiology for symptoms in an evidence-based fashion (and in a sensitive, empathetic way re: their patients), we all still have a long way to go to destigmatize the possibility of a psychological basis (or partial basis! sometimes its an interaction!) for illness. This is societal, but also personal. You have to have compassion for yourself so that you're not offended if a doctor brings it up as a possibility. It seems so backwards to me to brush off a psychological etiology for something like, say, irritable bowel syndrome. I mean, there's no arguing that diarrhea isn't real... It seems cruel and misguided to everyone involved to denigrate possible emotional or psychological causes, or partial causes, for that kind of distress.
@josefinastrummer Absolutely, many people don't want to bring more stuff into their lives; that's why I think that kindly saying that you would like to share an experience is a way to respect the other person while keeping true to your own values. There's also a distinction here between this question being posed to you by people you care for and care for you, and participating in a pressure-filled environment to give and receive presents to and from everybody in your life like all coworkers, all peers, etc. I would also challenge the idea that for the majority of Americans it's just about stuff, or that somehow gift-giving is a dubious "tradition." Sintaxis makes that great point that it's an important social exchange. Giving and receiving treats/luxuries/kindnesses doesn't seem like it's just an invention of modern consumer culture.
The same way that one gets satisfaction from donating time or money to a charity, so does a person who gives a gift to someone else. If someone is asking you "what you want" for the holidays, or your birthday, or whenever, I see it as a signal that they want to show that they care about you, and they want to feel good about treating you to something. It doesn't have to be "stuff," but it is worth considering that telling that person that you'd love to go for a hike/to a museum/ice-skating with them, or receive some of their homemade cookies or a home-cooked meal, or have a small donation made in your name to X, is a way for that person to feel generous, valued, and loving. Those are great things to feel.
The "scary good luck bank" is a Japanese Daruma. The eyes are blank because you are supposed to color the pupils in yourself. You set an intention or goal and draw in one pupil and then when you complete that goal you draw in the other. They're motivating and inspiring. Companies will use them to set performance goals, students use them for exams, etc.
Consign those clothes!! You can recover at least a modest part of those sunk costs. Ice cream bar definitely = saddest...