Tell a FriendLeigh AnneLeigh Anne Jasheway ~ Queen of Stress

Give It To Me

Ah, Ďtis the season of giving gifts, of receiving gifts, and of attempting to determine exactly what the gift is and what the giver meant by giving it to you. "Is this a new-fangled remote control or an electronic hair removal device? Does she think Iím a lazy slob with too much body hair?"

Itís not a simple thing, this holiday gift-exchange. First you have to understand the basic rules:

1. The value of the gift you give must be equal to or greater than the average value of the gift the intended recipient gave you last year and the value of the gift they will probably give you this year, minus the price of the ribbon, divided by how long you had to stand in line at the post office to mail it, plus the interest rate on your Visa card.

2. You should never re-gift someone with any item they have given you in the past five years, unless there are incontrovertible signs of memory loss. Theirs, not yours.

3. If unsure about size, always buy a "Medium." If you give a gift that is too big, you imply the recipient is fat. On the other hand, if you give a gift that is too small, you imply the recipient is fat. It doesnít matter if the gift is a blouse, a pair of socks, or a 3-bedroom house in the suburbs. Always go for "Medium."

4. If youíre not sure a gift is appropriate, make another choice. This will prevent you from buying your boss a surprise basket from Pollyís Peignoirs and Porn Shoppe and keep you from purchasing your spouse a personal desk-top shredder (which may come in too handy during the divorce proceedings. "Financial records, what financial records?")
Some people try to make your task easier by providing a list of things theyíd like to receive for the holidays. These are the people who still havenít gotten over the whole "Santa is not real and neither are those letters in Playboy" discussion they had as a child. The problem with buying gifts for list-makers is that usually their lists are boring -- "Socks, slippers, and pajamas." Why canít they by these things for themselves like the rest of us?

If youíre not working off a list, your own gift-giving style will emerge. There are five basic styles:

The "Itís What I Want" Style Ė If youíve ever given your brother an aromatherapy diffuser or your niece a WWF video game, you fall into this category. The rationale is two-fold: (1) I want it, so it must be good and others will also like it; and (2) I want it, so if the recipient for some reason Ė death or poor taste, for example -- doesnít want it, then Iíll get it back!

The opposite approach is something I call the "Itís Cheap Crap Iíd Never Let In My House, So Iím Sure Sheíll Love It!" This is the gift-giving style of people who think they are better than the rest of the world. Namely, most of my relatives.
For the truly clueless, thereís the "Youíre A Woman 30-65, So Iím Sure My Wife Would Enjoy The Same Things You Do" Approach. This is the polling approach to gift-giving in which the shopper surveys every person in the store who fits the target demographic. Bill Clinton uses this approach, which explains why last year Hillary got a T-shirt emblazoned with "70% of Americans donít care what the President does in the privacy of the Oval Office!"

Really creative people who subscribe to lots of catalogs often use the "I Bet They Donít Have One of These!" Approach. Last year, one of my friends who is a follower of this gift-giving style, gave me a pair of reflexology socks. I thought they were cute until one day I pressed the spot the pancreas spot and three people died. Well, itís the thought that counts.

Last, but not least, thereís the "Itís All They Have Left" style. If youíve ever given a loved one a bottle of Wite Out and a package of airline peanuts, you know who you are.
Or you could just forgo giving gifts at all. Chalk it up to voluntary simplicity, environmentalism, or the inability to afford both gifts and therapy.

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 © 1998 LA Jasheway

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