Editor’s note: Jenny would love to have time to write a column this week… but the month of December has her busy, as usual. This column originally ran in December 2016.
When it comes to holiday shopping, do you plan ahead? Wait until the very last minute?
I guess I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. I never start before Thanksgiving, but starting on Christmas Eve would make me panic. I don’t even mind braving the crowds in December, on the prowl for the perfect gift.
My sole complaint about the crowds is the people. Some people shouldn’t be allowed in public. I’m not going into any detail with that, except to say that there are a lot of folks out there who need to learn some manners.
Not only is shopping time consuming, but finding the perfect gift is nearly impossible. The gift that I think would be perfect for you may not even make your list. There’s nothing better than surprising someone with my idea of the best thing for them, though. I put a lot of thought into what I give.
There’s nothing worse than buying a gift just because I have to, picking up something, anything, that can be wrapped and given. I guess there are plenty of things that would be worse, but it does make me sad.
I love getting my kids’ lists each year. It’s most amusing when they ask for things I wouldn’t necessarily even purchase for myself. Well, I would buy myself an Apple watch. I haven’t, though, and you can bet your sweet you-know-what I’m not buying one for my 12-year-old.
He also found some sort of Sonic Screwdriver from Dr. Who, which is “only $1,200 on Amazon.” Sure, Buddy. Let’s go ahead and buy you a car this year, too. The sky’s the limit.
The Girl wants three things: a bike, a ukelele and an iPhone. I always said I’d wait until eighth or ninth grade to get phones for my kids, but we can file this one with all those other “I swear I’d never” parenting things we all say and then un-say. You new parents are probably saying you won’t even do that. I wish you the best of luck.
Growing up, my dad liked to trick me. “There’s no way you’re getting that for Christmas.” He would give me some reason as to why it just wasn’t going to happen.
In seventh grade, I asked for the leather bomber jacket that every other seventh-grader wanted. You know, the one with the satiny world map lining. That Christmas morning, with every present unwrapped, it seemed I didn’t get the jacket. Oh, wait! What is that plastic grocery store bag over there in the corner? Inside was a neatly folded leather jacket.
When I was 16, he told me he wasn’t getting me a car. A few months after my birthday, we went to “just look” at a car. When the lady’s garage opened, there was a big red bow on the car. Dad had already bought it for me. Apparently I haven’t outgrown this blissful ignorance, because The Man does it to me, too.
I can’t imagine how teachers feel. They get so much crap year after year. I’m sure they’ll say they don’t mind, but how many A+ Teacher picture frames and apple cinnamon candles does one person need? A teacher friend of mine was given a silk rose that reeked of cigarette smoke clearly purchased at the gas station on the way to school. I guess it was a nice gesture? The thought does count. It might be better if you thought about using a little Febreeze on the silk rose.
There’s a trend to give teachers cash or grocery store gift cards. Since teachers don’t get paid enough, this seems like a good way to help them get what they need for the classroom or home. I give teachers the same gift almost every year — a certificate for a manicure. They seem to appreciate it, anyway. One year, I was talking to a teacher, ready to hand over her manicure card, when she started listing and complaining about many of the gifts she’d already gotten. She said, “Cash is so much better. We can go out and get something we actually like.” Being that specific about gifts is off-putting. I quickly tucked the certificate in my pocket. That year, I made a donation to a local charity in her name. She didn’t get squat.
I feel the same frustration when I see parents waiting in line after line, spending hundreds of dollars on this specific gift their precious snowflake has to have or she will just melt. If gift giving becomes that stressful, you’re missing the point.
First of all, Christmas isn’t just about the presents. Second, gift giving is supposed to be fun, not laden with demands and specifics that are impossible to fulfill. I’ll even throw in that it’s better to give than receive. Because it is. I do like diamonds, though.
Speaking of lines, what the heck are these Hatchimal things? I think my kids are too old for them, because they don’t seem to know, either. Or maybe they aren’t cool enough. I’ve seen people talking about spending hundreds of dollars on what looks like a plastic egg with a little stuffed animal in it. I’m sure I’m missing something. I guess it’s kinda like the Tickle Me Elmo craze. I don’t get it.
The key to gift-giving is quality over quantity. Getting special things that they will love and be proud of is a good thing. Kids don’t need their entire list. They may think they do, but they also think Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes make for a nutritional breakfast. I might have two with my coffee, but that’s none of their business. Wanting for things is okay; I promise they’ll live. Give within your means and from your heart. Don’t forget to remove the price tag.