Wednesday, December 16, 2009


So how is your Christmas season going so far? Are you ahead or behind or just right? Me, I can't believe Christmas is just around the corner - next week already!

I think somewhere back in the pages of this blog I wondered out loud (well, in print, anyway) as to just how many books that get purchased also get read. Today, along those lines, I wondered of all the items that are purchased to give as Christmas gifts, how many of them will actually be used by the recipient.

I don't think the volume of returns at the stores is an accurate indicator because a lot of things either aren't worth returning, can't be returned, or the recipient doesn't want to return them for fear of upsetting the giver. And I am sure there is also that portion of gifts that ends up being regifted. My advice for those who do that is to make sure your memory is dependable so that you don't give someone the same gift that they gave you the previous year (as someone did to us one year).

Now what do you think - is it better to ask someone what they would like for a gift, or is it better to surprise them? Personally, if it is going to be something of more than nominal value, I say better to ask and get them something they really like - unless you know them really well and also have been listening to the hints they've been giving, either consciously or unconsciously. The way I look at it, if something is going to be useless to the recipient, then why even bother to give it. On the other hand, if everyone had the same philosophy I did, that would put a lot of stores out of business!

There was one person who for three years in a row gave me the same color polo shirt. On the the third year I happened to mention it to them and they started laughing. "Really? I gave you the same thing two years in a row?"

"Three," I said, updating them. We had a good laugh about that. Heck, I wore them so I wasn't complaining but I thought it was funny. Then someone else would give me the same sort of dressy shirt each year. I finally asked them what made them choose these particular shirts (since I never had occasion to wear them) and was told they buy stuff for me that they like.

Now I am sure I've given my share of unintentional white elephants, so I shouldn't be one to talk. I just thought I'd point out some of the inevitable foibles of Christmas gift giving.

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