Thursday, December 30, 2004

A Season’s End

  With Christmas behind us, it’s time for another yearly tradition to begin to unfold.  In the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, an American ritual can be seen as it plays out at customer service desks in every American city. 

  Like a beacon in the night, like our shining North Star promising salvation, signs and greeters point the way.  Signs that read: “Exchanges & Refunds.”

  After all, we have been wronged, right?  Given a bath salt gift set, or lollipop-print curtain set, what are we to do?  These gifts may be well-intended, but should’ve been intended for someone else.  It doesn’t make us bad people.  We know what we want, and it’s not a two-sided jigsaw puzzle of your favorite scenes from “Deliverance.”

  Rule number one in gift-giving: don’t buy for others what you secretly want for yourself.  If you buy a fruitcake, eat it.  Don’t give it to your mother-in-law.  She deserves something more dangerous, anyway.

  Gift cards are great.  Cash is even better.  Gift receipts are a nice gesture, but are like gift cards with the added hassle of standing in the exchange line the day after Christmas.  If you care enough for someone to give a gift, make sure it’s not ugly clothes that don’t fit.

  Cash may be impersonal, but no one opens an envelope and says, “Oh, this again.”  As a gift-giver, the only problem with giving cash is that you can’t lie about how much you spent on their gift.

  Guys:  never, ever buy your girlfriend exercise equipment (like a ThighMaster or an exercise bike).  Same goes for a gym membership.  EVEN if she says she wants it.  Tell her she doesn’t need it, and take her for some ice cream.  New Year’s Eve is a sad time to be single.  Some of you probably already know this.

  Rule number one of gift-receiving:  Smile, but if you don’t like it, don’t take it out of its packaging.  Once it has been opened, it can’t be exchanged.  Or re-gifted. 

  Re-gifting is another option, a last resort.  But remember, everyone you know will have a birthday in the year to come, and most will be happy you even remembered at all.  One man’s bad gift is another man’s “nice gesture.” 

  Goodwill toward men goes right out the window the day after Christmas.  Apparently, nothing takes a toll on holiday cheer like surviving the holidays.  Anyone who has ever spent time in the exchange line on the 26th knows what I’m talking about.  When you’re stuck in a slow-moving line between a mother of nine and three senior citizens with two good hips between them, peace on Earth is a distant concept.

  If all of your gifts this year were bad gifts, remember that you have options.  Stand in line for that hard-earned exchange, or wrap ‘em up and give them to someone more deserving.  After all, one bad gift deserves another.

 -From Pulse
   December 30, 2004