How an Authoritarian Protects the Vulnerable »« Where We Draw the Line

The Guide to the Grudging Gift

Ah, the signs of the season: full parking lots, disappearing gift receipts, annoying bell ringers (who are frequently nice people getting paid too little to support the crappy organization that will use your money to further discrimination), and–joy of joys–that one person for whom you’re buying a gift only as a gift to the people who have to deal with you both. Luckily for you, my friend Naomi has updated her guide to finding that perfect gift to convey your seasonal message.

4. If you’re shopping for an ex, because the kids want to give him a present, focus on setting. If you take your kids to A Store, they will probably choose something from That Store. You might say to yourself, “I’ll just take them to Target; I can get some other shopping done while I’m there,” but recognize that you are wasting an opportunity. There are entire stores full of nothing but horrifying items: you probably don’t want to go to the Thomas Kinkaide Store at the Mall of America (because if you’re sensible, you don’t want to go ANYWHERE NEAR the Mall of America in December) but take a careful look at the stores convenient to you. Is there a place that specializes in collectible plates with pictures of animals on them? Or a store that sells nothing but novelty socks? Or a Spencer Gifts? (NOTE: This is only a good strategy if your ex at least has the redeeming quality of being willing to pretend s/he just LOVES whatever the kids wound up picking out. If you have an ex that would hurt your kid’s feelings over a Christmas gift, my suggestion for what this person should get for Christmas would potentially expose me to legal liability so I deleted it after typing it out. I’m sure you know a guy who knows a guy who could suggest the perfect method thing.)

Now, as Naomi points out, not everyone is obliged to give gift to people they despise. For instance, I just don’t feel that bound by social constraints. But I do have to say that her guide makes it very tempting to just find someone who needs one of these gifts.

Comments

  1. dontpanic says

    Ah, yes, nothing says “good parenting” like using your kids to act out your aggression against The Ex.

  2. dontpanic says

    Sorry for the buzz-kill [meta: not really but social convention says you must accept my apology, or not getato for you] but even the idea of using child soldiers ruined the humor in the original post now that I’ve read it in it’s entirety. The other suggestions … fine, use them or don’t as your comfort level with passive-aggressive behaviour allows. But, please, leave the kids out of it. Using them as proxies to mind-fuck someone, mind-fucks them as well. And don’t give me the “it’s only humor” line — there are those out there who would do just what was described.

  3. raymoscow says

    If the (un)loved one has young children, drums, ‘space ray’ guns or other loud toys are perfect gifts.

  4. says

    I have to take issue with your assertion that bell-ringers “support the crappy organization that will use your money to further discrimination.” You may have good reason to feel this way about the Salvation Army. I don’t know your context. But I do know that in the hardest years of my life, when I faced Christmas with absolutely nothing for my kids and not enough food or money for heat, these people came through for us. They never asked our religion and did not proselytize theirs. They didn’t even give us a Bible or the merest pamphlet on Christianity. They did what the New Testament Jesus told them to do – help one another. You don’t have to believe in Jesus (I didn’t at the time)to be treated like a person when it’s Christmas time and the S.A. offers help. They are one of the very few charities I support, because when the chips are down, they help people. You may have had different experiences with them. Mine have always been positive, and entirely unattached to my belief or lack thereof.

  5. says

    Lyn, all I can say is I’m glad it worked out for you.

    They do good for some people, I know that. I won’t give to the Salvos on principle – based on direct experience with their policies and policy makers. You’re lucky that they assumed you were not a lesbian, or a trans-woman, or a woman escaping domestic violence, or a drug addict. Or your experiences would most probably have been very different.

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