Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Case Against Christmas Cards & Giving Gifts

So, now we're in the holiday season. Apparently, I've not written about this issue but I feel like I should. This article also prompts a response.

First off, we resolve every single year not to have to mail out Christmas cards. My family & I are not about the Christmas cards. We rarely got any from anyone via mail & we were more apt to do exchanges with co-workers, classmates, people we saw all the time. No one in my family would foam at the mouth or freak out if you didn't send them a Christmas card.

Think about snail mail Christmas cards for a moment: you pay a huge amount in postage per card (44 cents a piece at last count, though the rate easily could have gone up since I had to mail things), the cards are usually generic in scope & many people who get them don't bother to save them. Once they take out the cash or gift card, they usually just throw it in the trash either right away or shortly after Christmas.

Now I ask you, what is the point of that? If you have some elderly grandparent who doesn't know diddly about the Internet that's one thing but there are plenty of grandparents who have computers & Facebook accounts of their own so that "old age" argument is wearing thin. If you're not completely infirm in some way (like no movement in your extremities, having your own room at the hospital or needing 24/7 assisted living care) or living very close to the poverty line, I do think you should be making some effort to get with modern times and at least know how to write and receive e-mail. I'm sure even many people with terminal illnesses know these basics.

This should be mandatory in the workplace; no one should have to cater to your Luddite ways when you're hampering business operations by refusing to adapt (yes, you are). Customers will respond by not patronizing your business & going to your competitors. Younger workers a.k.a. the future of society will go work someplace where the boss actually bothers with modern technology. Basic, modern technology is a boon to ALL of us & does make life easier. Stop using your past glory to be a technology snob! We are not impressed & we don't care what you did when we were still in diapers. Try doing great things NOW in 2012!

You also can't claim to be an environmentalist or "green" in any way if you are mailing out Christmas cards. If you're doing that, you're just a hypocrite & can keep your mouth shut about people not recycling as well as about mothers using disposable diapers on their babies.

I think the Christmas card had its time when postage was cheaper but today, it doesn't make sense to me. I figure once more of the Jurassic Luddites die out, we'll be strictly on the e-mail Christmas cards or just giving cards to people without putting yet more money in the US Post Office's pocket (and you know how fond I am of them).

Plus, when we get them it becomes a whole obligation of "Now, we have to send YOU one." That's irritating & personally I don't care but my husband feels differently.

Maybe this is one of those familial differences: I didn't have any super old relatives to send things to me. We didn't have money to spare on frivolities like Christmas cards & Thank You notes. We believe in talking to people and personally being nice to them or thanking them for a gift. That is sufficient for me & for any rational person. Yeah, yeah, etiquette rules & "Aren't you the etiquette queen?" you may ask? Here's the answer: you've met your etiquette duties when you said "Thank you," once or "Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/Happy Hanukkah/Happy Kwanzaa/Happy Whatever!" once.

Sending me a card is saying it to me twice & I'm not some unfeeling bitch who expects you to spend $50 sending Christmas cards when you might be this close to losing electricity or being kicked out of your home. You don't know how big someone's family/friends circle might be & even $20 could be an imposition.

I'd rather you saved your money & had food to feed your kids instead of fulfilling some outdated, antiquated notion of "etiquette" that has no place in 2012. I grew up living on that razor's edge so I don't get all butt hurt if someone didn't send me a paper card. How do you know that person isn't in serious financial straits or has the same attitude I have about such things? Do YOU save all the Thank You notes you get & have a collection of all the ones you've ever gotten from anyone? If you trash them, you've got no right to be angry if someone thanked you in person or on the telephone instead of sending you a paper card. My philosophy on Thank You notes is the same as it is with Christmas cards. Informality, you say? Well, good thing you've got money to throw away; some of us have to live on a budget & don't have it to burn like you do.

Seriously, SAVE YOUR MONEY! Send me an e-card instead. Better yet, send me a personalized e-mail if you want to thank me or wish me a happy holiday.

We're sending cards to a couple people as a kind gesture since they don't have funds for things. I'm not expecting return cards from them since they are living near the poverty line. That's my own choice to be nice.

I guess I also despise such traditions since no one is honest about why they're doing things. You know that secretly, everyone wants a card and/or gift if they give you one & some of these people are materialistic jerks who could use a viewing of What Would Jesus Buy? or some time at a homeless shelter to see real hardship. They could use a lesson in appreciation & stop viewing gifts as an entitlement.

Now, on the topic of gift giving: as I get older, it becomes much harder to write a Christmas list. When I was younger, I was like every other kid having a list long enough to paper the county 3 times over. Okay, not literally but I could definitely come up with things.

As you get older, you recognize the difference between needs and wants. My wants have also decreased dramatically & changed. These days, most of my wants are based on money being no object like buying me good stock or office space or paying off my student loan debt. Since no one I know can do that (nor would I ask someone to pay off my student loan debt), I'm left with very little I can think of for lists. It's like "What can you get me that I couldn't get myself?"

I also still have a lot of clothing & personal preferences that some of my list seekers aren't as supportive of or in tune with. I can trust my immediate family to buy me things fitting my taste & style and my in-laws will buy things I wouldn't have necessarily thought of for myself but then look good in when I try them on. However, I wouldn't trust people outside these groups to clothes shop for me without a link to the exact item I wanted.

I'm also upgrading things so getting that stuff costs more. Jewelry, I'm looking at you.

We also have limited space in our home, don't go to most chain restaurants we can get to around here & I have subscriptions to Groupon and Living Social that I check regularly for deals. Some of my list seekers refuse to use the Internet or live very far away from me & wouldn't call a NYC venue to see about a gift certificate or card for us to use.

Therefore, if I don't know what I want & you have crazy parameters, how are you going to know what I want or spend your money wisely on a gift for me? Maybe I need more gift giving friends in the financial realm who know about buying stock. I could keep stock certificates in my home more easily.

I have to now respond to that Backstage article. Maybe the Secret Agent Man & his associates like actors to give them gifts but I wouldn't want someone in a business relationship with me (as opposed to having established an independent friendship with me) giving me gifts. Actors doing it feels to me like they're trying to suck up to me or buy my affection.

If I were a manager, I wouldn't want a client doing that & lawyers aren't supposed to be using their legal representation to get presents or freebies from clients. The ethics rules are especially wary of clients giving large gifts to their lawyers.

You being a shitty actor or legal client isn't going to change with you giving me a good gift. Your gift will not change my opinion of you in that respect. I might think you're a nice person & that you were thoughtful but if you suck, you suck. That's just all there is to it. Maybe I'd feel more inclined to help you not suck but it feels like encouraging actors to give gifts just encourages the mediocre & lousy to use it as a means to get undeserved opportunities. I am not a present whore & don't want people thinking a shiny gift makes up for their shortcomings, personality problems, whatever the issue is. I'd rather have pleasant people in my life who aren't causing me stress, grief & hassle instead of problem causers who think giving me a nice Christmas gift makes up for their bullshit the rest of the year.

Who's with me on this? Are YOU a present whore?

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