Hey Mrs. G.,
At the holidays I see Hanukkah cards and am always tempted to buy them for my Jewish pals, but really, isn't that just an excuse for retail sales and won't my Jewish pals also see it as an "Oh, so they sent us this because they were sending out Christmas cards and not really because it's Hanukkah" move?
- Do I Spend It or Not?
"Cards," while undoubtedly supported by the U.S. postal service, have come to seem quaint and a bit backward. (See "Supported by the U.S. Postal Service.") And as far as Hanukkah goes, there is nothing any more inherently card-worthy about it than about Christmas, just as there is nothing inherently more card-worthy about Christmas than there is about, say, the Fourth of July. Instead, make a little holiday greeting video, upload it to Vimeo, and send your pals the link. Easy, ecumenical, irreproducible, digital, divine.
Dear Ms. G.,
Every year I tell myself I'm not going to go to the trouble, but just the same every year I try incredibly hard to make or buy a really appropriate gift for my father, something special and quirky and right up his alley. They're not lavish gifts, usually. But a lot of thought goes into them. Usually the best response to be hoped for is a "That's nice." (Or it could be more on the order of, "Oh.") And then in later years, when I look at that object in his house, or that book on his shelf, I always feel bad.
- Bad Karma
Not that Mrs. G is a real look-on-the-bright-side sort of gal, but look on the bright side, Karma - he hasn't sold the gifts at a garage sale. Give a little less, expect a little less, move on, because you know as well as I do, this way validation ain't a-comin'. If you really don't want to see these sad objects around the house in future times, try theater or sports tickets or a gift certificate for a weekend at the casino (or whatever it is that's up Dad's alley). Gone with the wind.
Dear Mrs. Gift,
My sister and her husband have a number of rescued dogs they consider to be part of their family - and I get that, I really do. The dogs are welcome in my house for holiday celebrations, even if it does make things more hectic. Considerably so. Whatever. However, during the present-opening time, which takes long enough just going through the actual human members of the family, my sister wants the dogs to take their turns to open their wrapped bone presents, and film the entire process on her phone - sometimes with staged re-dos. That's too much. How do you suggest I tamp down on the insanity?
You do not specify how many "a number" of rescued dogs might be. Two? Six? One hundred and one? This info could weigh heavily on my advice.
Regardless, Mrs. G. suspects from the tone of your note that the problem lies not in the filming of the pooches, but the lack of order you perceive and with your sister's elevation of the canine culture. If it's really okay with you that the dogs be part of the celebration, as you claim, grab yourself another drink and mug for the camera. Remember that present-opening is not a solemn ceremony. If it is the added element of the chaos that you really object to, tell your sister the dogs should stay at home. Just be prepared for your sis and her husband to choose the dogs over you.
Dear Mrs. Gift,
Due to the perilous economic times in which we find ourselves (thanks, Wall Street), I have nothing but moths in my wallet in this season of giving. As I don't want to be Grinchy, and I don't want to resort to crime, I was hoping you might have a few low- to no-cost suggestions to get me out of this mess.
- Main Street
While there is obviously nothing wrong with homemade gifts, or printing up little coupon booklets promising to shovel your friend's driveway X number of times, these are best coming from a purely voluntary, values-driven anti-capitalistic stance and not actual moth-driven desperation. The trick with this sort of thing is making sure it's not, in the end, more depressing than actually giving no gifts at all.
There is always re-gifting, or the "White Elephant" gift exchange, which is basically re-gifting made transparent. Or consider a pre-re-gift gift swap, in which you meet with friends (with whom you don't exchange gifts, naturally) to trade unwanted but otherwise desirable items. These become like-new gift fodder. Think of it as an in-house sale at a store you yourself are the buyer for. You have an incredible eye.