Christmas Gift List Negotiation

Y’all know my preference for Halloween over most things, and that’s just my personality. Contrary to popular belief, I do genuinely enjoy the Christmas season. I do. I love the decorations and the fun, cheesy movies and I love Christmas carols even though I’m not religious. I love spending quality time with friends and family and the giving spirit.

What I do not like is how gift giving has morphed into a really robotic rat race in my family. I don’t entirely know how it got this way and I don’t know how to undo it. It irks me every year and this year it’s irking me even earlier.

What happens is this: in my family and extended family, it’s customary for each person to send out their Christmas list to everyone else. Excellent, nice. Then what happens is that some family members go out and buy up all (or almost all. or a good chunk.) of the items on said list immediately, leaving little else for others to get. What also happens is that there is this flurry of a million emails from various family members calling dibs on items or just informing us that items have already been bought for so-and-so. There is often another flurry of emails from folks asking if such-and-such was already bought for so-and-so? and if not, can I buy it? thaaaanks. This leaves me with an inbox full of emails from family and a whole hell of a lot of anxiety.

Once all of this happens in rapid succession, I have some choices to make. I have to decide if I want to try and open family members’ lists right away in an effort to beat other people to the “good gifts,” whatever that means. I have to decide if I want to send those emails asking if this gift has already been bought or not, and to do that I’d have to wait for responses before being able to just buy the damn thing. I have to decide if I want to then be the sender of the email saying hey I just bought such-and-such for so-and-so FYI ok byeeeee. And once I start getting those emails from others, I have to decide if I am going to go through them all so I can keep track of what has already been bought and what is still available.

Do you see how quickly the innocent sending out of Christmas lists has morphed into something so…yucky? It’s ridiculous and it stresses me the fuck out every. damn. year.

I struggle with it because I don’t see my extended family very often and I want to get them gifts that they want and will genuinely enjoy, and so we tend to rely on lists for those reasons. I, in turn, enjoy getting gifts from my list. Do they all need to be from my list? No. But some I’d really like.

I’ve experimented with opting out of different aspects of this Christmas gift list negotiation over the years. I’ve tried completely ignoring the flurries of emails and just bought from the lists what I wanted. That meant that some people got duplicate gifts and I included return info just in case. Less than ideal, but okay. There’s been a few years now where I’ve gone completely off the reservation and – gasp – got gifts for people that, gulp, weren’t on their lists! Did they enjoy them? I honestly don’t know. Was that Christmas season way less stressful for me? Hell yes. Were those gifts given from the heart with each recipient in mind? You bet they were.

A part of me would like to just do completely away with the gift giving. Just get rid of it. While that would definitely be easier, I do enjoy giving gifts and I’m not gonna lie, I like getting them as well. Just not this way. Not like this. Somehow the Christmas spirit got lost and I have no idea how to find it again. What’s the number for Hallmark?!

Soooooo here I find myself at the dawn of a new fa-la-la-ucking Christmas season and I have those same decisions to make. Maybe, for 2020, we can all agree that the adults get booze (their favorite kind of booze!) and the kids get candy (again, their favorite!). Or maybe we could all just take a fucking peppermint chill pill and settle down with the damn emails.


Day 16

Strike Three

I just had a lovely phone conversation that I’d like to share with y’all.  Details may have been embellished because funny.

The setup:  After unsuccessfully trying to update my profile info on the pet microchip website (strike one), I looked for an email address to seek help.  There was none (strike two).  I was forced to make a phone call and wait on hold for several minutes.  The following conversation was the strike three.

Lady:  Hello, how may I help you?

Me: Hi, I tried to update my profile info on your website but couldn’t.  Can you please help?

Lady:  Sure, just let me get some info from you. (She gets it from me.) Ok, so for this you’ll have to fax in a copy of your change-of-name document and we’ll get that changed for you.

Me: Fax?!  Really?  What year is this?

Lady: 2015, ma’am.

Me:  Exactly.  Fax machines should have all self-destructed by now.  Can’t I just email you a picture of it?

Lady:  Oh…sure, I guess you could do that.  Send it to: wereidiots@stoopidville.com

Me:  Why couldn’t you have just put this information on your website instead of making me call and wait on hold?

Lady:  Oh that would be too easy.  See, we need to be sure that our customers are worthy of our services and love their pets enough to call and wait on hold.

Me:  —-

Lady:  Also, I see here that you owe a balance on your account.  The first year of this service was free, but every year after that there’s a fee.  You could either pay $20 to secure your membership for the next year or just pay $283655673 for a lifetime membership.  Since your precious little kitty is so young, I recommend the lifetime membership.  Would you like to take care of that today?

Me:  Uh, what?  We’ve never paid membership fees.

Lady:  Oh, well we don’t send out bills.

Me:  Then how do you collect fees?  Via carrier pigeon?  Telepathically?  Or maybe the lost animals do it!!!

Lady: We send you a reminder email, or when you call us we remind you.

Me:  Wow, so you do try to use email?  Why wouldn’t you try and fax me first?  I never once got an email or fax from you.  Or a carrier pigeon.

Lady:  Maybe it went to your spam folder or you deleted it since you hate the animals.

Me: Yeah, no.  Unlike you, I actually understand how emailing works.  And billing, for that matter.  So why isn’t my online account closed since we’ve never paid you a dime?

Lady:  I can’t answer that question because I am incompetent.

Me:  Ok, so…if my cat had gone missing one year ago and someone found her, would you still have called me even though we’ve never paid?

Lady:  Oh yes.  We would never not reunite you with your animal.  We love an-

Me: You love animals, yes.  I get it.  So what you’re telling me is that this is a free service.

Lady:  No, it’s not.  You have a balance due.  Would you like to take care of this today?

Me:  No.  No, I would not.  You just go take care of those animals while I go all Office Space on my fax machine.  Oh wait.  That’s right.