Friday, December 28, 2007

How to properly end the year

I figured that I could end 2007 bitching about something that is way up under my skin or go out on a high note with something positive and cheery.

Take a guess which way I'm headed.

Alrighty then.

Christmas is becoming more and more of a sham to me. This year, I procrastinated and took my time cooking up a list. That was my first mistake but I had specific ideas that I had noticed along the lines of items I had overlooked replacing throughout the past year. Nothing was very extravagant and they were all items which I actually need and will use -- even socks.

The problem lies with the Christmas events with my in-laws. It's a rather large family and each of the now-grown "children" draw names with spouses and significant others throwing their names in the bucket as well. The problem is that there are some who simply refuse to actually give anything of value, need or usefulness.

This, to me, is where gift-giving crosses the line from being "the thought that counts" to "this shit is utterly useless to me and I can't even return it". Yes, I am the proud owner of a goddamned Christmas-themed oil burning candle-like centerpiece -- and it's from Wal-Mart. Sure, I probably could return it but it's a seasonal item which means I would be lucky to get even 50% of the value back in my dusty pockets.

The other item I received was a t-shirt. Hey, when I'm not at work I'm Captain T-Shirt. But even with my t-shirts, I have standards. Rule number one, no sports teams. Guess what? That's the first rule which was broken. I didn't attend the University of Minnesota, their athletic programs suck and I don't give a rat's behind about collegiate sports. I actually despise collegiate sports more than the professional brand.

It dawned on me last night, after the wife threw some kerosene on my fire, that certain gifts are useless. Giving something for the sake of giving is pointless. The gifts we give are useful and well thought out. We don't buy an oversized crappy t-shirt for someone unless we are damn sure this person it's meant for is in need of and actually likes oversized crappy t-shirts sporting colleges which have no relevance even in the state which they call home.

As for a gift which has no relevance to the gender of the person receiving it, think about it for a minute before you hap-hazardly wrap it in 1998-vintage wrapping paper. What does a guy want with Christmas-themed oil lamps? Even the most feminine guy wouldn't have much of a use for this gift outside of soaking the very gift with the oil it came with to vanquish it in flames.

Seriously, if you get my name next year, ask what I want. Do some investigating anf please, please, don't be lazy.


T. said...

I swear, Christmas stops being fun at like 16. Then it just becomes a cross between a chore and junk collection.

Adam said...

guess i should return that lamp i bought you.... and if oyu haven't seen 'juno' yet, see it. great movie.

Hammer said...

Yeah I had a Christmas where I got leftovers and dumb sports shirts.

I wish they didn't even bother.

Brendan said...

Sure, I probably could return it but it's a seasonal item which means I would be lucky to get even 50% of the value back in my dusty pockets.

At the risk of being a pedantic micro-economist, allow me to point out that this is an incorrect statement.

You may only get 50% of the original retail price of the candle-thing back, I'll stipulate. However, this candle-thing has no value, to you. Therefore, returning it and getting at least something in exchange means that you will have gotten something of increased value, again, specifically to you.

Just to pick a number at random, suppose this thing costs $20 and Wal-Mart will give you $10 in store credit. That's a nice pair of wool socks. Or a few pounds of candy. Or a T-shirt that fits and has no sports logo.

Whatever someone once paid to buy that candle-thing originally is immaterial to your current considerations. Its value, to you, right now, is $0.00. Almost anything that you could get in exchange for it leaves you better off.

Of course, this neglects the cost of the trip to Wal-Mart.

On the other hand, it also neglects the benefit of the opportunity to be rude to someone at the exchange counter.

Jeff said...

For the very first time this year, our family FINALLY stopped exchanging gifts. I've been trying to put a stop to it for years but no one wanted to break the "tradition." Now we just give gifts to the kids under 18. Yay!

snowelf said...

I am very lucky as I usually receive very practical gifts and I also put a lot of thought into my gifts I give, so it always surprises me when people don't. I am sorry you had that kind of Christmas and I agree, if that's the case I would rather receive nothing at all. Especially if you guys draw names, how can someone not take the time to get you something they know you would love or at least would use. :(


buffalodickdy said...

There are many creative ways to do gift giving- the name thing is the worst. I got a bow tie from a cousin once that H.R. Pufinstuff would not have worn. Adults don't need gratuitous gifts- let your family know it, in a good way!

Sornie said...

Thanks for the feedback on this conundrum. I have to single out Brendan's response because it was very well thought out but criticize it also because the mer thought of Wal-Mart shafting me for half of the original retail value of something makes my thick and chunks, highly-intoxicated blood boil. I do, however, enjoy the thought of being a total ass to some already spiteful Wal-Mart employee as I bicker over their return policy. I do love to argue.

Michelle Ann said...

I think you just posted about the orgins of re-gifting. On the Saturday before Christmas, I just arrived home after a long day of struggle in the retail world when my boyfriend asked me if I happen to have an extra gift. He had neglected to get his co-worker a gift. Sure, let me just pull that out of my ass...where I keep it. I realized that this is where the Christmas themed oil lamps and sports minded gifts come from...desperation. Rather than saddle the co-worker with a feng shui candle set, I went out and bought a proper gift...

Beth said...

I hope I get your name next year, cuz I am a really really good gift-giver!!

Happy New Year!

Anette said...

If I bought you a pair of wollen socks I would really mean well. I love wollen socks and I would want you to have a pair of good ones! But of course we all either love or hate woll so I would check that out before I got them for you! I woulden't want your feet to itch!

Brendan said...


I have to single out Brendan's response because it was very well thought out but criticize it also because the mer thought of Wal-Mart shafting me for half of the original retail value ...

I was just trying to point out the rational way to view this situation. I grant that it's not always easy to remove emotion from reality.