Thursday, October 18, 2012

In which I suspect Doris has punted on my birthday present

How tacky is it to complain about a gift?

Very, very tacky. I am being tacky here. I know it. I own it. I am ashamed, but not ashamed enought to shut up.

And this isn't even a gift for sure. This is a possibility. This is me using Occam's Razor to come to a conclusion.

The facts:

1. Doris insists on exchanging gifts, even though we have (Primo has) implored her not to. We don't  need more crap and she never heeds our desires for things like theater tickets or a renewal of our subscription to Cooks Illustrated.

2. Doris has very bad taste. Previous gifts have included the hummingbird-painted cheap Chinese stacking tables, the hand-painted vase with butterflies and purple flowers, and the cast-iron cat. None of them returnable for cash. All of them exchangeable for equally odious goods.

3. Doris pesters Primo in the weeks before my birthday by sending him link after link to items he knows - even without asking me - that I would never want in a million years. I know there are women who cherish shirts with lots of different colors and designs and sequins on them, but I am not one of those women. I know there are women who like vases hand-painted with butterflies and purple flowers ($68). I am not one of them. I know there are women who like cast-iron cats. I am not one of them.

Nor do I want to weird scarf from the National Geographic society or the funky sweater from the Metropolitan Museum gift store. I want to buy my own clothes. I no longer do third-world chic: I stopped that after the Peace Corps.

4. Primo has made gentle suggestions that what I would really like is tickets to see the Johnny Cash musical next spring or that Julia Child cookbook Doris has that she has never used and even told me I could have.

5. Doris ignores all suggestions.

6. I got a pamphlet for Heifer International in the mail today. Years and years ago, in a moment of misguided do-gooderness, I made donations in my family's name to this organization for Christmas. This was over 20 years ago. I have moved many times since then and I have come to see the annoying smugness involved in donating to charity in someone else's name AS A GIFT.

7. I have spent the past three years getting us (mostly Primo) off junk mail lists. Our junk mail is next to nothing. Then, out of the blue, this pamphlet.

8. My birthday, she approaches. I suspect that Doris made a donation in my name because she couldn't think of anything else to do that didn't involve giving me nothing (which is what I really want) or what Primo has told her I want (which is my second choice - but really, I just want to stop the madness completely).

What do you think?


  1. I think she's trying, in her own blighted, emotionally stunted way. I say you should accept cheerfully all horrendous gifts, store them (because we all know Primo has the boxes with which to do so) until the day you can have a white elephant exchange and amaze and dazzle and confound your friends and family with the plethora of tacky crap you've got!

    1. I know - I know I need to be more sympathetic to her. I should be the bigger person here. And wait for the big tacky gift party.

  2. Win - Win. You get nothing and someone who needs it gets a goat! You can give her a goat on her birthday!

    1. Ha. Primo would never hear the end of it if I did the same thing to her.

  3. I think Heifer Int'l is pretty cool and if you don't actually want clutter in your home, is the most completely inoffensive and nice gift someone can give. Even crazy folk can't be offended by someone giving a person a means to help themselves with agriculture on their behalf. (Say I, as someone with crazy relatives so far off the political scale from me, there is no other gift I might give that would not offend one or the other of us.

    1. Oh, I agree! It's a cool charity! But I am opposed on principle to making donations to charity in someone else's name unless you are positive that's what the person wants. It's so holier than thou. I'd really rather have the theater tickets if she wants to spend money on me.

  4. If it's between a tacky gift and a goat in another country, I'd go for the goat.

    Another thought: When you've returned the gifts and gotten store credit in return, have you tried then selling that to someone else? There are websites galore where people sell their unwanted gift cards. You wouldn't get the full value, but it wouldn't be a total loss either.

  5. I bet she gave Heifer $5 in your name!