Death, Taxes, and Prepackaged Gifts mp3
There are three things one can count on. There used to be only two, but a third now pops up every Xmas buying season. It is just as severe, as certain as death and taxes. This third surety I'm referring to is prepackaged gifts. No matter what establishment you may patronize, full retail or discount, department or specialty, on-line or brick-and-mortar, snooty or slack-jawed, there will be a prepackaged gift ready to satisfy your Xmas giving urges.
Unlike death and taxes, which I see as necessities in this world, I have developed a love/hate relationship with prefab presents. I am indifferent to death and taxes. Taxation is a requisite institution to pay for government. Death is necessary to eliminate those who are smart/rich/evil enough to find ways to keep from paying taxes. (It is also great for keeping corrupt leaders from maintaining their power indefinitely.) Prepackaged gifts are not a necessity, but a convenient gift fix one can appreciate. I enjoy the convenience of completing my shopping all in one store. More enjoyable is knowing the only thought required for gift selection is to choose the store, and which of the dozen preassembled presents most closely matches the personality of the intended recipient. Uncle Joe gets the coffee set to help him sober up. Granny Moses with the halitosis gets the chocolate mints. My aquaphobic cousin Larry gets the bath set.
But in that convenience also lies my disdain; what is sweet is also souring. Prepackaged gifts tell my gift recipients that I'm indifferent, inconsiderate, and too inattentive to put any real thought into giving. They tell the receiver it's a get-it-out-of-the-way, another-name-off-the-checklist, instant gift. That's what I would think, and often do think when I receive similar packages. In my case, I am indifferent, inconsiderate, and thoughtless, but I don't want to advertise it.
Prepackaged holiday gifts will contain items of dubious merit that no sane person would purchase otherwise. Manufacturers brilliantly include slow sellers, marketing mistakes, or otherwise flawed products along with desirable items in the gift sets, essentially forcing consumers to buy bad products. Who would purchase honey-orange-hazelnut-mint hot chocolate if it weren't for gift sets? Or pumpkin-lemon-chipotle coffee? Or tomato-plantain jam? Or bath salts? What is it about putting salts in a bath? After a hard day of work getting dirty and sweating, I wouldn't find it pleasing to sit in a tub of salty filth water. I wouldn't want to make anyone else do it, especially someone I care enough to give a present to.
Sometimes the gift baskets include promotional consumables which cannot be purchased again once the season is over. I would inevitably be contacted by the recipient seeking these items they now want more of. I don't want to be hunted down by an angry addicted consumer looking for a hit when their supply of the gift fix is exhausted. I wonder if there is a rehab for addicted gift recipients. I wonder if there is a prepackaged-gift-giver relocation program.
Worst of all, prepackaged gifts diminish the charm and thoughtfulness of giver-assembled gifts. I enjoy making and arranging my own gift sets. I'll buy some wine, chocolates, coffees, or jams and arrange with candies, fruit, or nuts in a seasonal basket. Perhaps I'll slip in a gift card for a favorite store or restaurant. I'll wrap it in colored cellophane, and top it off with an attractive ornament. I'll give it to a friend or relative who will instantly ask, “Did you buy this at Sam's Club? I'm looking for something like this to give a lady at work.” She might as well have told me it'll make a great re-gift. But my indignation wanes when I realize I have created the equivalent of a fruitcake – an heirloom gift that will be passed along from friend to friend, relative to relative over generations.
I guess my effort wasn't wasted after all.