Thursday, December 8, 2011

Does The Thought Really Count On Christmas?

A well used platitude: "It's not gift, It's the thought that counts." This simple statement is a reassurance that no matter how expensive or cheap a present is that the personal meaning/story behind it is more important than any monetary value that it might possess. While this phrase may warm the cockles of our heart, it is hardly ever true and hardly even accurate. In fact, the opposite almost without exception is true. As the great Micheal Scott from the Office says: "Presents are the best way to show someone you care. It's like this tangible thing that you can point to and say 'Hey man, I love you this many dollars worth." While this statement is intended to be humorous there is some truth in it. All things being equal the thought DOES count however, it is rare that anyone puts ANY thought into gift giving let alone ENOUGH thought to compensate for the HUGE monetary discrepancy between the presents that you exchange.

Gift cards are the most vile, pathetic excuse for a present ever invented and are void of any thought whether the value is great or small. At best the facade of a gift card attempts to say: "I vaguely remember that you like this store so I am allowing you the gift of going there to the tune of ___ many dollars." I am going to take time out of my day to drive to a store and give that store cash so that they can give me fake cash back which can only be redeemed at said store within one year at which time the Monopoly money will vanish into thin air. Granted, I recognize that gift cards have saved many Cosby sweater catastrophes from occurring on Christmas day but what's wrong with Cash? When did it become Taboo to quietly slip a couple of crinkled twenties inside a formulaic Christmas card (that made have been used a time or two) and place it on the tree?

Also, if we are being honest isn't "It's the thought that counts" really just a device so that poor people don't feel wholly pathetic at the burnt offerings they are about to bestow upon their family members? Unless you have instituted a 20 dollar rule among your friends/family you can be pretty sure that your hand made ceramic cats are not going to stand up to a 63 inch television.

Wealthy people tend to dread Christmas because it often exposes them for the thoughtless penny pinching assholes that they are. As stated in an earlier essay, Rich people learn at an early age to insulate themselves from people who might try to take their money. You would think that this would increase a rich person's ability to find a thoughtful gift rather than expensive gift. However, the Achilles heel of the Rich is that they are also self absorbed and when they are not counting dollars and cents, they are fully consumed with their own wants and desires. What this translates to is a fundamental inability to conceive of an object that someone else might like let alone attach a personal emotion to the object.

In addition, can a wealthy person really give a "thoughtful" inexpensive gift without being seen as cheap? Short of finding the bear that your grandfather played with as a tot at a swap meet for 5 dollars there is no low cost gift that a rich person can give. No one wants wants to drive up to your 10,000 square foot house and get handed a basket of oranges that you picked from your garden. The unwritten rule for wealthy people is that "the thought" should begin with something that costs at least 100 dollars. In addition why not also try having the thought that it might be a little unseemly to open your presents that costs thousands of dollars in front of people who are hoping for a pack of underwear and tube socks to get them through the year.

The lesson here is that there is no way to quantify the inherent "specialness" of a gift and as such it is better to error on the side of brash, expensive presents FOR EVERYONE. No girl wants to get an engagement ring weaved from some fibers of grass from where you first met, they want a diamond. On a special day, people want special things so that their inescapable nightmare of a life can be temporarily quelled for one day of present unveiling bliss. If you still believe that it's the thought that counts, then make that thought money this Christmas and count some out for me.


  1. My parents have bought me gift cards for the last five years. Does that mean they don't love me?

  2. i love to warm a good cockle. especially at christmas.

  3. Ah. You shouldn't have.

    No, really. That is an awful effing gift. It is so bad, I am going to commit ritual suicide right in front of you, just so I never have to receive another soul rending gift from you again.

    Did you save the receipt?

  4. Great article! Love the gift card description, though, really they're the best gift for not-so-close friends/relatives - avoids some uncomfortable situations.

    "So, did you like the cheese log and biscuit set? Oh, that's right, I'd forgotten you had the bypass surgery..."

  5. I recently got a card from my grandparents for my birthday that read: "I've never seen someone move so fast in flip-flops or look so good in a pair of faded bell-bottom jeans."

    It was hard not to laugh. For one thing I never wear flip-flops, for another not one pair of my SKINNY jeans is faded blue, and I haven't owned bell-bottom jeans since I was 8.

    But seriously Grandpa and Grandma thank for the twenty dollars. Haha.