Friday, December 28, 2007

Plastic Christmas

This entry isn't about the commercialism of Christmas, the tension between the religious and secular aspects of the holiday or even our keen artificial tree with the color wheel and all. I'm talking gifts here. Specifically, I'm talking about the kind of gifts that I would never have condoned back in high school or college, but now rely on almost exclusively.

I'm talking plastic. And, by extension, digital gifts as well.

Here is the bulk of my Christmas spoils this year. Clockwise from top left:
  1. Cato: a gift card for a store that sells larger sizes in women's clothes. Last year I had it in my car, and it fell on the floor. John picked it up and set it on the dash, where it promptly slipped through a crack and was hopelessly out of reach. This year John opened up a spark plug access hatch and retrieved it to give to me again.
  2. Barnes & Noble: I'm sure this was intended for one of my friends, but when I'd given everything out I had this one left over. Did I buy one too many? I specifically remember presenting to TS and J and M, and sticking one in the envelope for my estranged friend. I even asked someone at work if she got her gift from me. She had, and so had my other two bosses. So how did I end up with this one? Oh, well, it's spendable!
  3. Wal-Mart: A Christmas Story: only worth five bucks as I recall, and it's from a year ago. It never occurs to me to spend it.
  4. Wal-Mart: A Christmas Story: same as #3, but a different scene from the movie.
  5. Starbucks: probably a Secret Santa gift or somesuch from a year ago. I hate coffee, but I could find something to buy, if I remembered at the right moment that I have this.
  6. Barnes & Noble: from my godson's parents, and very welcome it is, too.
  7. Toys R Us: I bought this for an Angel Tree kid, but the Angel Tree at church mysteriously disappeared (no, really), and I was unable to turn this in. Poor kid! It will either go to my godson or be spent by me. Supposedly they've got Doctor Who toys.
  8. a check from my dad: honorary plastic!
  9. Barnes & Noble: this year's Secret Santa gift. Perfect! These I do spend.

On John's side of the couch are the remains of two gift cards I got him, one from Best Buy, the other from B&N. I meant to buy one from Home Depot, but somehow I didn't. Good thing, too, because I had to do some creative packaging to get down to the "five" gifts we agreed on.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing, this reliance on plastic cards instead of creative gifting? It's both, I suspect. I try, I really do, but most of the time I have no idea what's likely to go over well with someone. And last year I think it cost me as much to send my godson's stuff as to buy it, which strikes me as a waste, and horribly inefficient. If I give the gift or Amazon or B&N, the shipping isn't an issue, at least not for me; and I'm in effect giving books and media. That seems like a much worthier gift than a cheese basket or toiletries. And nearly everyone I know is a reader; that's part of why they're my friends in the first place!



fdtate said...

You might want to check the fine print on the old gift cards. Many have expiration dates.

Gift cards are extremely easy gifts, but I try to stay away from them because of all the fine print hassles. The merchants love them. The recipients either spend the amount on the card and a little extra or they leave money on the card which eventually expires and they get to pocket.

barrettmanor said...

Some cards have monthly fees that kick in after a certain date. You should be able to check the balance on most of your cards online.

And yes, I gave some gift cards this year. There are some relatives we mainly see at Christmas. Gifts are expected to be exchanged. And as far as I know, the TSA won't hassle someone who brings a gift card on board a plane.

BTW, you should be able to find something at Starbucks these days. They have an eclectic selection of music. And, at the right time of the year, pumpkin bread! ;-)

Becky said...

Pumpkin Oh! Didn't they have a pumpkin latte of some sort too? my latest entry in which I give thanks to all the folks who gifted me with Amazon booty. THANKS! I bought the Canon off my wish list! [runs off giggling and giddy like a kid at...well...Christmas!]