Erlend's semi-curated nonsense

The Mexican Christmas gift standoff

I hate Christmas presents.

When I was young, Christmas presents where the best, but now as I’m older (and slightly bitter) the whole concept strikes me as flawed.

MAG – “mutual assured gifting”

By receiving a gift, the rules of society dictates that you must return the gesture with a gift of your own, so if a person gives you something, you are pretty much forced to give something back or feel bad about it.

Mexican Standoff

If you give someone a gift one year, you HAVE to give them a gift next year (or else they will wonder why you suddenly stopped giving gifts), this combined with the principle from the point above causes a Mexican standoff in which neither parties can stop giving gifts (unless both agrees on it, however, bringing up “I don’t want to give you a gift this year” might be considered awkward for some people).

Net Value

By the same social mechanism as mentioned in the first point, you will feel bad if you give someone a cheap or bad gift, if they give you something expensive or good. This means that to avoid causing yourself or other people stress and feelings of guilt, the gifts exchanged must be of approximately equal value. For gifting to work optimally you will need to agree upon in advance a price for the gift, to avoid over- or under-gifting.

Keeping track

My memory is very selective, which means I can remember all ~700 Star Trek episodes but none of the gifts I gave or received last Christmas, so in order to maintain the delicate balance of gift values I would have to keep track of all the gifts given and received for every year.

The gift itself

When you were young any 10$ brightly colored plastic toy was great and all gifts were welcomed.. But then what happened? The toys stopped coming, instead boring crap like socks, boxers, deodorant, picture frames, ties, shirts, etc..? I actually have the ability to go to the store and get myself a pair of socks if need be. The worst of all is the knick knacks, ornaments and other objects with no function, they rarely fit your taste and only makes you go “wtf, if this person thinks I’ll love these brass statues of exotic seabirds, that person hardly know me well enough to justify giving a gift in the first place”.

Surprise gifters!

This is the absolute worst, some ninny you haven’t seen in a year just popping up at the door with a gift and a big smile. WTF? Why is this person you haven’t seen or talked to in ages standing in your doorway like a complete muppet? You had no idea this bastard was going to give you a gift, so obviously you have nothing for him/her. So what do you do? you just pretend you haven’t gotten or wrapped that persons gift yet and that you will deliver it later, followed by an agonizing trip to the city to desperately find some last minute gift in the worst Christmas rush imaginable. That’s a nice stressful way to spend the holiday.

The generic gift

If you don’t want to add to your health problems with the stress of getting a gift for the surprise gifter mentioned above, you’ve probably got one or two generic gifts on standby out of sight of the front door. This gift is wrapped up and ready to go in the 3 seconds it takes you to write down the name of the schmuck in your hallway. The gift itself is so generic you could give it to anyone. Usually it’s something totally lame like a box of chocolate, flowers or Christmas ornaments.

The solution

Since you probably don’t have a clue what that person wants or needs, you might as well just give the person some cash (don’t buy a goddamn gift card forcing the person to shop at a particular place), and if you want to adhere to the “Net value” principle above, you should both give the exact same amount (unless you want to account for difference in net income). Exchanging equal sums of money can be simplified into doing nothing, which in the end results in the best Christmas gift one can give: “a little bit of peace and quiet”.

Well, now that I’m done ranting about the horrors of Christmas gifts I can go to bed.. After all I have to wake up early tomorrow and complete MY gift shopping, I’m down to only two people I have to buy a gifts for, so feel free to envy me (preferably around noon tomorrow, it will keep me warm while I’m going to the store).

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