Help People Gift You With Nice Things By Not Being Obnoxious

Yesterday evening I spent a few glorious hours doing almost nothing. Lazy? Yes. Gleefully so.

Well, I’ve done the usual house proud things like thinking really hard about finding the broom and dustpan, washing the dishes, feeding myself, doing a hell of a lot of loads of laundry (effort that will be for naught if I don’t actually put the clean stuff away…like, today), supervising a three day long house power wash that seems to have literally knocked the old shack askew (all doors are now sticking and are a potential “will die in a fire” hazard because they are hard as hell to open and close), and trying to gently urge new-by-marriage family members I only talk to once a year (but like a lot) to please, for the love of Santa, make out a frickin’ Amazon wishlist so I don’t give up in disgust and go buy them all oven mitts and candle baskets and singing penguins to make a point.

They refuse to do this for Christmas, they refuse to do it for anniversaries, they refuse to do it for birthdays. Why is this? I know I’m poor, but I’m trying, here. (If someone is offering to get you EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT for a gift, then throw them a frickin’ bone and put at least two or three items on a frickin’ list, OKAY? Is that so wrong? It’s not gauche or vulgar if someone begs you to do it so their gift shopping is not a pain in the ass! Honest! Do you WANT a Chia Pet? Don’t make me get you a fruitcake for Christmas, because I’ll do it, people. Sigh.)

Here’s another annoying thing you shouldn’t do: My mom has this “don’t spend your money” whenever it is coming up on a gift-giving event, and says shit that translates into an “I would much prefer you to spend three weeks sweating over an original painting that will cost you $200 in supplies, not that you have that kind of cash, and will require elbow room and space in which to actually paint, space which you do not have” routine that ruins the little joy I get out of, for example, the ONLY THING I LIKE ABOUT CHRISTMAS, which is giving other people stuff they want. I like birthday giving and Valentine’s Day giving and holiday giving in general, but I don’t like not having anything to give, no money to get anything to give, and suggestions made in a combination of innocence and ignorance that basically ask me to spend hundreds of dollars and days of time on an Easter basket gift or something equally minor. I get that it is supposed to be a compliment, but when you’re told that art supplies aren’t cheap, when you have helped me buy not-cheap art supplies, and when you know it takes hours to do something half-way decent, your suggestion that I “just make something, you know, with your art skills” is thoroughly annoying.

So cut that shit out.

But I digress. What else did I not-do while enjoying a rare respite from constant stress and an over-booked schedule? Well, I’ve read a lot. And taken a nap. A nap! What luxury!

Okay, I’m not done with the gift giving thing. Bear with me.

Helpful hint: if you tell someone not to spend money on you after they already have, or you reject all offered gift item suggestions (there’s a reason you were being offered a limited list, probably due to finances or the estimated ease of getting you what you want in time for the event), or profess to hate and refuse to use “we sell everything” online wishlists (like Amazon) to suggest instead a gift that was NOT offered and which would be a huge pain in the ass, expensive, and time-consuming for the giver, you are not being courteous and polite, you are being a jerk. Stop that. Did I offer you a damn pony? No. No, I did not.

Just for that, you are getting a fruitcake, and I don’t care if it is February. (It was stale in December, it ain’t getting any less stale.)

Likewise, if someone has made a point of saying that they never, ever shop at Wal*Mart or K-Mart, do not think you’re being cute if you gift them with a $15 Wal*Mart gift card that forces them to look at all the overpriced, limited, lame items on the Wal*Mart website, because the recipient is still not going to drive across town and suffer Wal*Hell. I got one a few years ago, held onto it for months, not knowing WTF to do with it, and almost just threw it out. HOWEVER, did I complain to the giver and remind them that I’d told them (OFTEN!) that Wal*Mart is on my “never give this company a dime” list, or that their gift was thus unappreciated? I DID NOT. I was very grateful, and very appreciative. The thought, however passive-aggressive, was probably well-intentioned. I suspect that my birthday snuck up on the givers and they bundled the gift in with the weekly groceries, because they DO shop at Wal*Mart, frequently, and their Wal*Mart has a grocery section. See, as I didn’t expect anything at all, I was glad to get what I got. I just didn’t know how to use it, and that took some thinking.

This, however, is why I don’t want to just randomly run out and buy giftcards. I personally may love Target. Do you? Not everyone does. Some gift cards I get if I can afford to celebrate Christmas in Atlanta every year require that I shop IN Atlanta before driving home, because the stores DO NOT EXIST down here and the cards expire in a few months, and there’s either no website or the cards have to be used in person in a store.

Which brings me back to my earlier gripe: FILL OUT AN AMAZON WISHLIST, PLEASE. Some of us do not like going in person to a store, be it to buy something for themselves or to buy gifts for others. Don’t make us do it. I was 100% more happy when I figured out that I could do most of my Christmas shopping online and even get stuff wrapped and shipped for me. Now I can’t afford to even buy a candy cane in the penny bin for someone, but back when I could, online shopping was SO much better than dealing with parking, crowds, limited store hours, thieves trying to steal your shit, crying kids, horrible Christmas music and traffic. I will never set foot in a mall again if I can help it.

I LOVE AMAZON DOT COM SO MUCH.

Anyway, while surfing around, struggling to figure out what these almost-strangers actually like, because they have failed to respond to my emails and calls thus far and time is running short if I want to get all this stuff shipped to me in time to wrap it and travel up there with it, I found a lot of nifty (and cranky) blogs and journals talking about holiday hell.

Not everyone enjoys the frickin’ holidays. I am often depressed and unhappy until March. I don’t enjoy all the pro-debt advertising and expectations and etiquette concerns and headaches. I struggle to be civil and positive while suffering an onslaught of holiday crap music and religious advertising from local Jesusland businesses and TV stations (!!!, no attempt whatsoever to be respectful to the large Jewish population here, for one, or to people who simply don’t want to see adverts where Le Grand Fromage of the TV station PRAYS and reads Bible verses in front of a Nativity scene during nearly every commercial break, forcing you to remember why you have cable and never watch local channels in the first place), and poorly-planned roadways that make it a pain in the butt to shift lanes, and family sulks (like how my mother is angry that I do not want to fly or drive up to Atlanta with her, even though I need my car to get from the opposite side of town to my brother and SIL’s house and back while there and am not likely to be arriving or leaving at the same time, and do not wish to be bothered with anal probes at the airport, and like how family members are often being nasty to and about my pet, and other crap).

It makes me all so tired that I get, like, TOTALLY parenthetical!!

Need MOAR semicolons. And brevity. Yup.

That said, it is nice to have the option to see family during the holidays. Since I couldn’t this year, as even buying a single tank of gas was out of my price range, my Christmas may have been a lot less stressful, but it was also really, really quiet. I didn’t hear from my family until almost 9PM Christmas night.
So, there’s that.