Trigger warning: this post contains complaints that those seriously offended by first-world problems may find especially disturbing.
If you need it, it is not a gift.
While it is a truth universally acknowledged that practical presents are not presents at all, that fact is still totally ignored by a very important group of people who generally fall into one of two categories:
1. Bad Gift Givers
2. Even Worse Marketers
Something called an Udderly Hot Mama nursing top is currently being pitched to media outlets as “the perfect gift for new moms this Mother’s Day.” It may well be “chic,” as it’s described in a press release, but it’s also been touted as “functional.” There are plenty of things a new mom wants — on Mother’s Day, no less — although most of them are not something even remotely functional. (That is, unless what’s being offered is a functional hotel room where the new mom can get 8-24 hours of uninterrupted rest.)
In honor of Valentine’s, BuzzFeed declared, “pretty much any man or woman would be thrilled to receive a bouquet like this.” The bouquet to which they are referring is one containing a few flowers and accented with such “gifts” as batteries, razor blades, socks, and a roll of quarters.
“Because nothing makes you feel loved like a huge stash of everyday items that you always seem to run out of at the most inopportune times,” BuzzFeed said.
Hmm. Maybe. Except it seems a more reasonable leap of logic to say that nothing will make you feel more unloved than receiving stuff gleaned from a CVS store at 11:15 p.m. on Feb. 13. It seems to me that if you’re going to go through the motions of offering a gift, it should be romantic or at least coming from a place of love or affection — not a place of “I know! I’ll save her a trip to the dollar aisle at Target, which will double as an expression of my commitment and fidelity.” A bouquet containing something that tells the recipient it’s time to shave is not a gift. It’s a sign of hostility and possibly extreme dislike. A heartfelt card or box of chocolates? Yes. A Schick Quattro for women razor? No.
Underwear have long gotten a well-deserved bad rap for being wrapped under Christmas trees. Same goes for books. (Yes, kids love to read — but unless you bought them an iPad on which to read an e-book, there had better not be anything with pages from Santa). While tearing open gifts is fun, what’s underneath the paper needs to be worthy, not a necessity. It’s the thought that counts but only thoughts that result in good gifts really count.
Other items that need to be banished from the gift category include I.O.U.s for chores around the house that have been put off for the better part of the year. As for I.O.U.s for things like a night out or a massage? Show, don’t tell. Make it happen. Forcing the gift recipient to have to cash in (and, likely, plan) due to the gift giver’s lack of motivation and foresight to actually do it instead of promise to do it is l-a-m-e. Then there’s the best worst gift, which is one for the giver not the give-e. This includes sex, lingerie, and anything where the giver tells the recipient, “You’ll love it! I promise!”
Like most rules however, there is an exception to this one. For instance, if you have a blender but want a Vitamix, that can be considered a gift because it’s an extravagant upgrade. Maybe you are already in possession of a robe and slippers but are coveting more luxurious versions of each. Vacuum cleaners can even be a gift — especially if it doesn’t need you to push it or it comes with someone to do it for you.
Razors and nursing tops though, are Cupid’s answers to Santa’s coal. And if you think Christmas Day is cold when a child is disappointed, just imagine the Valentine’s night chill when you present you partner with a roll of quarters and a pair of socks.