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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Wal-Mart: A Christmas Story: same as #3, but a different scene from the movie.
- 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.
- Barnes & Noble: from my godson's parents, and very welcome it is, too.
- 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.
- a check from my dad: honorary plastic!
- 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!