Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The 25 Days of Giving Challenge: Day 5

December 5, 2012

I want to preface this whole post by proudly stating that I love  I have managed to accomplish a lot of my own Christmas shopping from the warm, quiet comfort of my own home this year, thanks to Amazon's great selection and even greater prices (and reasonable shipping and return rates.)  And though this may seem like a "Shop Amazon!" commercial for which I am being paid some hefty commission (Don't I wish?  Because, yes, I will write for money.), this post was actually inspired by the reaction I had to Amazon's advertising tactics when I opened my email, titled "Gift Ideas by Relationship" this morning.  Clearly, this type of advertising isn't Amazon-specific by any means.  It's just part of the "for sale" world in which we live, especially at this time of year.  So I'll just present you with the following visual and give you a moment to process:

And there it is. Make-up brushes for mom and tools for dad. (La Cage aux Folles this is not!)
But wait, it gets better. Because while the girlfriend/wife and the boyfriend/husband both need jewelry, clearly the girlfriend/wife is more interested in decorating herself, while the boyfriend/husband will be getting the new watch -- probably so he'll have something to tap anxiously while girlfriend/wife threatens to make him late for the party with Family Friends. And speaking of Family Friends, we will all be gifting
those Generic McNobody's with a "candy crate" this year. Something that admits: "We don't know you that well, so we thought we'd raise your blood sugar and add to your cholesterol numbers while contributing a donation in your name to the worldwide obesity fund. Happy holidays."

Of course, we can't forget our grandparents, those wise and lovely elders. I mean, don't we all have meek little grandmothers who live in curlers and aprons, and who long only for more picture frames? Because the infinite number of collages and portraits we've given them for the past twenty Christmases don't cover enough wall and coffee table and china hutch space already. And of course, our grandmas need something to stare at while our stereotypical grandfathers watch sports, right? After all, dad and boyfriend/husband will surely be over on Christmas day (hopefully on time, if mom and girlfriend/wife's beauty regimes and primping sessions don't take too long). And while the dad/boyfriend/husband contingent use their new tools to assemble and hang Grandma's picture frames, mom/girlfriend/wife can apply makeup and covet one another's jewels and marvel over ... the kids, who sit covered in Play-Doh gifts of their own. Because all kids lovvvveeee to smush gooey, sticky stuff between their fingers ... before they eat it. Even though mom/girlfriend/wife has repeatedly told the kids not to put anything in their mouths before threatening: "Wait til I tell dad/boyfriend/husband. Then you'll be sorry." Because mom/girlfriend/wife doesn't punish children, after all. It wouldn't be ladylike. And because dad/boyfriend/husband is the keeper of the tools and the recipient of the new timepiece -- and isn't that the place where all power actually lives?

Of course, the "extras" in the Amazon ad deserve some small mention, if only to pull me toward my final point - which, I realize, seems a long time coming. But can we really do no better for the "Someone with everything" than a fondue pot? Which, let's be honest, is probably what they got from all their "Someone with everything" friends last year. The very same friends who received (and likely regifted) the Candy Crate. At the same time, even for those of us who prefer to keep the personal out of the workplace, can we really do no better for our coworkers than a contraption with little metal balls attached to strings that bang into one another when plucked? Aside from inducing a rather problematic sort of workplace hypnosis, what is this thing supposed to do? What is its function? I see many missed deadlines and unproductive days in the futures of any coworkers who receive this confusing little distraction. Though, as always, I am willing to be educated on this one.

Perhaps the oddest Amazon gift recommendation of all - at least in my opinion - is the College Student coffee maker. Now, on some level, this one actually makes sense to me - college students drink coffee. Lots of it, in some cases. And a coffee maker is pretty gender neutral, which I appreciate. But don't most college students already have a coffee maker if they do, indeed, drink that much coffee? And what about mom/girlfriend/wife, or dad/boyfriend/husband? I bet some of them drink coffee, too. Maybe they would actually like a new coffee maker (perhaps to replace the one their college student son/daughter "borrowed" for the dorm and never returned.) As far as the grandparents are concerned, Grandma probably drinks tea anyway - since that's what all grandmothers do - and Grandpa probably sticks to scotch - since everyone knows that "the war" (Any war. All wars. Even the ones that happened before Grandpa was born) drives him to the bottle, which he now only drinks from when watching sports. Which is why he's always watching sports. And why people buy him more sports for Christmas and then complain that he drinks too much, especially on Christmas day.

I share all this to make one very self-serving Christmas gift recommendation that will deliver happiness and joy to anyone who receives it. It is my holiday pick this year, and my gift recommendation. It is gender neutral, ageless, ranges in price from free up to $1 million (I imagine, though I've never personally seen one that expensive), and will last forever if cared for and talked about and shared as widely as possible. The gift to give this Christmas, my friends, is the gift of books! Words. Stories. Lives. We all live them. We all read them. A few of us even try to write them.  And, after all, nothing says "I know you" better than the perfect book. Nothing says "I wanted to get you something you would enjoy and share and appreciate " like the perfect book. Nothing says "I listen to you when you talk to me about your interests" like the perfect book. And nothing says "You're not a generic, stereotypical Mom/Dad/Someone with Everything Coworker Girlfriend/Wife Boyfriend/Husband Teenager Family Friends Grandma/Grandpa Kids College Student" like the perfect book.

So while I love - and will continue to shop at - Amazon, I encourage you to give the people in your life at least one gift that acknowledges how much they mean to you this year. Give each of them a book! And if you need a book recommendation for the Moms/Dads/Someones with Everything Coworkers Girlfriends/Wives Boyfriends/Husbands Teenagers Family Friends Grandmas/Grandpas Kids College Students in your life -- ask them. I bet most of them will be only to happy to help you give them something they will love.

Happy holidays -- and happy reading!!

Til next time,

~ Hasky


  1. I have always secretly wanted one of those lovely fondue sets. Another dumb, once a year use appliances that I have to find a place to store.

  2. I think they're kinda cool, too. Maybe I just make friends with people who own them so I can fascinate myself for a while and then escape the inevitable cleaning/storage conundrum that follows the party. And as a moment of full disclosure here, I did recently "weed out" my kitchen cupboards when I moved, and I found, among other things, a vegetable steamer (even though I use the pot-on-stove method, and always have), a bread maker (even though I rarely make bread, and when I do, I do the knead and rise and bake in the oven thing) and a shaved ice maker (which deserves no comment, only an eye roll). Now that I think about it, all three of those would have been great Christmas re-gifts! Darn me and my diligence on that one!!!

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday season, Turtle!


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