A few days ago my mom sent an email to my three sisters and me saying that instead of buying her gifts for Mother's Day, we should all make donations to our local food banks. "I have all I need," she wrote, "and the idea of anyone being hungry or struggling to buy food makes me very sad."
No way am I falling for that one. I sent her flowers.
I don't mean to imply, of course, that she's lying to us. I mean to imply that she's lying to herself. In fact, when most people insist they don't want you to buy them gifts and that the money would be better spent on the needy, it's safe to assume they're speaking aspirationally. In other words, they would like to be the sort of person who says such things, so they say them. But I wouldn't heed them if I were you. Make with the gifts.
An exception is when people ask for cash instead of presents. In that case, they mean it.