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Make lists and check them twice….

December 28, 2011








When it comes to holiday shopping, do you plan ahead?  Wait until the very last minute?  I guess I tend to fall somewhere in the middle.  I never start before Thanksgiving, but starting on Christmas Eve would make me panic. I don’t even mind braving the crowds in December, on the prowl for the perfect gift.  My sole complaint about the crowds is the people.  Some people shouldn’t be allowed in public.  I’m not going to go into any detail with that, except to say that there are a lot of folks out there who need to learn some manners.

Not only is shopping difficult and time consuming, but finding the perfect gift is nearly impossible.  The gift that I think would be perfect for you may not even make your list.   There’s nothing better than surprising someone with my idea of the best thing for them, though.  I put a lot of thought into what I give.  There’s nothing worse than buying a gift just because I have to, picking up something, anything, that can be wrapped and given.

Growing up, my dad liked to trick me.  “There’s no way you’re getting that for Christmas.”  He would give me some reason as to why it just wasn’t going to happen.   In seventh grade, I asked for the leather bomber jacket that every other seventh grader wanted.  You know, the one with the satiny world map lining.   That Christmas morning, with every present unwrapped, it seemed I didn’t get the jacket.  Oh, wait!  What is that plastic grocery store bag over there in the corner?  Inside was a neatly folded leather jacket.  When I was 16, he told me he wasn’t getting a car.  A few months after my birthday, we went to “just look” at a car.  When the lady’s garage opened, there was a big red bow on the car.  Dad had already bought it for me.  Apparently I haven’t outgrown this blissful ignorance, because The Man does it to me, too.

I can’t imagine how teachers feel.  They get so much crap year after year.  I’m sure they’ll say they don’t mind, but how many A+ Teacher picture frames and apple cinnamon candles does one person need?  A teacher friend of mine was given a silk rose that reeked of cigarette smoke clearly purchased at the gas station on the way to school.  I guess it was a nice gesture?

There is a trend to give teachers cash or grocery store gift cards.  Since teachers don’t get paid enough, this seems like a good way to help them get what they need for the classroom or home.  I give teachers the same gift each year – a certificate for a manicure.  They seem to appreciate it anyway.   One year I was talking to a teacher, ready to hand over her manicure card, when she started listing and complaining about many of the gifts she’d already gotten.  She said, “Cash is so much better.  We can go out and get something we actually like.”  Being that specific about gifts is off-putting.  I quickly tucked the certificate in my pocket.  That year, I made a donation to a local charity in her name.  She didn’t get squat.

I feel the same frustration when I see parents waiting in line after line, spending hundreds of dollars on this specific gift that Junioress has to have or she will just. die.  If gift giving becomes that stressful, you’re missing the point.  First of all, Christmas isn’t just about the presents.  Second, gift giving is supposed to be fun, not laden with demands and specifics that are impossible to fulfill.  I’ll even throw in that it’s better to give than receive.  Because it is.

The key to a good gift is quality over quantity.  Keep it simple.  Getting special things that they will love and be proud of is a good thing.  Kids don’t need their entire list.  Wanting for things is okay; I promise they’ll live.  Give within your means and from your heart.   Don’t forget to remove the price tag.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Alice permalink
    December 29, 2011 10:47 am

    Loved your article! My ten year old Roger, said it very thoughtfully a couple of years ago: “Santa doesn’t give you what you ask for……. but he gives you what you like!” I thought that was a very sweet way to acknowledge that he didn’t get everything on the list that year!
    Keep writing Jenny! Your articles are so entertaining!

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