I can understand why people like being nice to each other. Because they have a lousy self-image of themselves and need people to like them. What I don’t understand is the need for giving gifts to someone you barely know for something that anyone can do, or for something that inconveniences you.
Like baby showers. Oh wow, you had sex and got pregnant, and now you’re forcing people to throw you a party and give you gifts because you’ve taken on a parasite that, for at least 18 years, will do virtually nothing but spread germs, cause things to break, and make you tell me boring stories about how proud and amazed you are of it for carrying out tasks that every other child in this history of the world has completed. Oh, and it costs you an assload of time and money.
Like graduations. Oh wow, you managed to stop drinking long enough to get a C- in poly-sci and can grill me on French Monarchies from 100’s of years ago. You are also now qualified to speculate about modern politics and rhetoric, just like every other ho-ho who learned how to speak.
Like Christmas. Oh wow, you pretend you love Jesus for a day.
Just kidding. I don’t mind giving people gifts on Christmas. That makes sense to me. It’s a time when you tell a person “You know what? You are cool and I have known you for a long time. You are my friend, and you deserve to have something cool for it.” It’s true gifts are all about the effort, I have learned that time and again. Anytime I have spent a decent amount of time looking for something for someone it has worked out well – despite the fact it was a huge pain in my Kenny Roger’s Roaster. But I do that for friends and family.
What I don’t understand about Christmas gifts is where we draw the line. For instance, my sister’s boyfriend is coming to our house for Christmas. My SISTER has known this guy for…I think about 6 or 7 months, and they have been dating. I have met this dude twice.
He is a good guy and not awkward, weird, stupid, ugly, or any of those things as far as I can tell. But I have met him twice. And probably have spent no more than a couple of hours around him. I can tell you vaguely what he looks like, roughly how tall he is, and where he is from. In other words, I can give you less information about him than a $1 magazine can about your favorite celebrity.
So there was an email from my mom the other day asking for what my sister and I wanted for Christmas. My sister decides to ignore this question completely, and instead tell us what her boyfriend might like.
You tell me. Am I really obligated to get this guy a present that isn’t a punch in the face? He’s going to be staying at our house, and I have to tolerate awkward conversation with a stranger, an extra dish to set, clear, and wash (because guests don’t do anything at our house), and pretend to be interested in his response to whatever questions my parents decide to ask him. Isn’t that a gift enough?
I’ll have to invite him and my sister to do stuff, and even though they won’t come, if I don’t think to invite them, I will catch hell for it.
I do not expect this kindly fellow to get me a gift. In fact, I would much prefer that he didn’t so there is no need for me to open something and then feel awkward for one of a few reasons:
1) His gift was more expensive than mine – dude, I get it. You make like 3 times my salary. Despite the fact that it might be nothing to you to spend $20-$50 on something for a stranger, the fact that I could spare maybe $10-$20 makes me feel like garbage. The higher the dollar amount, the larger the mound of trash that I feel like becomes.
2) His gift is in the right price range, but altogether unusable and unlikeable – now I have to pretend I like something (awk-ward!) and then keep it around just in case we’re in each other’s presence in the future and he says “Hey, how’s that Barry Manilow poster I got you?” And I have to go “Oh, I didn’t throw that away at all! I have kept it in my bedroom! Come and see! It has not caused me to be laughed at and has not spoiled many-a-night of making out with a hot girl.”
3) His gift is in the right price range and I think it is awesome – this is possibly worst-case scenario. Because I know for a fact that nothing that I can afford to get this guy could be remotely as good. It won’t be well thought out, it won’t be expensive enough to be worth returning. It will at best be something that is moderately useful for a week or two, and then gets stored away or thrown away, depending on where he rates on the Jung-Myers-Briggs scale.
My sister has disposable income. My parents have disposable income. This dude has disposable income. I have credit card debt, student loans, and late commission checks that are used to pay off the former and later because my paychecks are roughly enough to keep me alive and occasionally drunk.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Man, this kid is an asshole. Just don’t get him anything.” Yeah. Right. There are a couple things that will happen if I go the Grinch route.
1) My sister or parents will get him something “from me.” And I will have to take credit for it – ruining the principle on which I based not getting him a gift in the first place, forcing me to pay close attention on Christmas Day so I don’t say “oh that’s cool, now who was that from?” or potentially getting him something he doesn’t like which is like the double whammy.
2) Number 1 doesn’t happen and he ends up getting me a gift as above. That just makes me a terrible person in everyone’s eyes – now not only does he have more money and get me cool stuff, or crappy stuff that I pretend is cool, but I didn’t get him anything.
And there is no way around this. I am forced into an awkward situation because my sister has liked someone for 6 months.
My question to you is, I know very little about how most people would deal with this situation. What would you do – and what is the non-asshole course of action?
inquire about what music he digs surreptitiously. then burn him a cd of mp3s you acquired illegally, but for free.