Re: The gift of gab?

1

I dislike both giving and receiving gifts, so I'm on board with the proposal to reform this practice. My wedding invitations told people to give to Doctors Without Borders instead of buying something for us.

The proliferation of gift giving occasions leads to (1) having way too much stuff, most of which you don't use, and (2) an additional burden on time and money. Having friends shouldn't be a job.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 7:53 AM
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I give presents pretty randomly. Or random isn't really the right word. Inconsistently. The reasons for giving presents are inconsistent, and the membership of the group of people I might give a present to is also inconsistent. And the timing is very inconsistent.

So far, I have not noticed anyone being particularly put out about not receiving a gift when one could be expected.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 7:59 AM
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My point: if you just ignore the rules and quit giving presents, no one (probably) will complain, or hate you, or anything.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:01 AM
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It feels like we're trapped in a "material goods are scarce" era of etiquette.

This is the problem. This is birthday week for my kids (Sally today, Newt next Wednesday) and it's maddening getting them presents, because stuff is cheap, so we sort of get them reasonable toy-type stuff as the occasion arises. I'm pretty profligate on buying books they want, so an extra load at their birthdays isn't particularly special... birthday presents just aren't exciting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:06 AM
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I will say that I think baby shower/new baby presents are still a good idea -- babies need a lot of stuff, and it hits at a time when you're confused and lacking in expertise. The giant wave of random baby items that hits you when you have one is useful and pleasant.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:07 AM
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3 is right, IMO. And as a side benefit, it might also help you cut down on the number of presents you receive.

I'm also an inconsistent gift-giver. If I happen to come up with something I think someone will really like, I'll get them a gift. Otherwise, they get nothing.*

*Kids are an exception, but we do try to minimize the number of gifts. We've stopped buying them anything for birthdays or Christmas, for example, since they get more than the ideal amount from relatives. And we've asked (and continue to ask) relatives to tone it down. A special gift, or maybe two, is plenty. Kids don't need a dozen boxes under the damn tree.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:09 AM
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God, yes, thank you, I agree. I'm bad about giving presents and even worse about writing thank-you notes for them. It seems especially bad within my family, but even if my parents and sister all had exactly the same hobbies as me, there's still a lot of difficult thought about gifts compressed into December. Must find something original and personal. Can't be too cheap, nor too extravagant. Now that I have a job that pays decently I feel guilty getting my parents anything cheap, especially if I know they're getting me something big. However, they still have a lot more wealth and disposable income than me, so they say they don't mind getting me something that costs a couple hundred dollars as long as they "know it's what you'd want". Last Christmas I suggested that the family cut back on the gift-giving all around, but that went nowhere.

I could be Dogbert.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:12 AM
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Kids don't need a dozen boxes under the damn tree.

This is going to sound inconsistent, and for some reason I do this at Christmas but not at birthdays, but I kind of like getting the kids lots of stocking-stuffer type presents -- weird little three dollar plastic toys. The lots-of-random-dumb-stuff experience is kind of happy and cheerful, where serious presents are always sort of underwhelming.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:14 AM
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The lots-of-random-dumb-stuff experience is kind of happy and cheerful, where serious presents are always sort of underwhelming.

I actually like that too. I'm talking about big boxes, full of plastic things that are going to take up space in our house.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:17 AM
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You don't need a new etiquette - just be a rebel, do what you want. "etiquette" is permission or sanction or acceptance - who needs that?


Posted by: Cassanthropy | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:18 AM
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10: Not all of us possess your daring.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:21 AM
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My mom used to pack up boxes of toys that she felt were unnecessary (and/or broken or irritating) and mail them to her siblings, who had children younger than us. She claimed to consider this to be a favor- they were getting extra free toys! but the aunts and uncles uniformly resented it. Although, they couldn't really do much about it except complain.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:23 AM
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In fairness, I'm probably not easy to shop for. I buy myself books or game-related stuff all the time so there's no need for other people to buy them for me, and I'm happy with a relatively stable routine. Just now my girlfriend is making pretty elaborate plans for my birthday, a weekend at the beach or something. I know whatever she comes up with will be fun, and I'm definitely grateful for the effort she's putting into it, but I really hope she's not stressing out about it because left to my own devices I'd just do the same stuff I usually do to have fun, just more of it.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:23 AM
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One reason we had so many broken/irritating toys around was that my stepdad and his sister had an ongoing battle to see who could give each other's children the worst (from an adult perspective) toys. This usually involved things that mades noises and lit up, but didn't have batteries, so the only way to make them stop working was to accidentally break them.

Then my mom put them in boxes and mailed them away. Problem solved!


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:25 AM
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Yeah, in my family the transition from gifts-for-everybody! to Yankee Swap to only-for-the-kids took years of complex negotiations and we still see some backsliding. It helped that my grandmother has been consistent and vocal in her feeling that presents for her are not only unnecessary but actually an imposition. She kind of sets the tone. Only for that gathering, though--in my immediate family we still all try to shop for each other every year.


Posted by: Osgood Yousbad | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:27 AM
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Actually my mother still does this, with me, but with other household goods. I got a box of used books from her the other day, with a follow-up text message that says "also i am sending some linens and pottery whether you want it or not"


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:28 AM
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7. My dad used to do this with his twin brother for years when they were lads. Saved them a fortune.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:32 AM
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Oh, man, I hate the Yankee Swap/name draw thing. HATE it. It takes a tradition (giving gifts to loved ones) that has soured (too commercialized, too many expectations, too much stuff) and tears all the remaining value out. You think Christmas is too commercial? You think there's too much stuff? Let's buy crap nobody wants and then fight over it!


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:32 AM
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16: Heh. Mine is a yard-sale obsessive. Which is actually kind of nice some ways -- she continually shows up with shoppingbags full of second-hand clothes she bought for fifty cents each, and a good half of them are useful. It does mean that I never have a good idea of what clothes the kids own, because most of what they wear appeared randomly without my doing anything about it. And then I realize that it's nine hundred degrees outside, and neither one of them has any shorts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:33 AM
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18: Wait, what's a Yankee Swap? I was thinking it was some version of "Draw one family member's name, and buy only for that one person." Like Secret Santa, but not secret.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:35 AM
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White Elephant thing, I think? I hate them all. White Elephant, Secret Santa, name draw, whatever. They all ruin everything.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:36 AM
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The ideal timing would be "I buy you gift when see thing you like." I don't know why that came out in Caveman but I'm leaving it.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:36 AM
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20: I forget the rules but have done this. I think it's like "Let's Make a Deal" but with lots of resentment.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:38 AM
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I do hate the white elephant game more than the Secret Santa/draw a name thing. But I hate that too. My family sort of tried to do it for a few years and I broke the attempt- I just continued to buy/make presents for everyone (EVERYONE. I was making a STATEMENT) and complained loudly to anyone who would listen about how dumb and offensive and stupid and Grinch-like and awful it all was. Eventually I think they all got tired of dealing with me, so we reverted to "give presents to whichever family members you want to, or don't, whatever".


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:40 AM
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5 is true, but only assuming the inclusion of gift receipts.

Our "no presents" requests have been pretty well adhered to for my son's last couple of birthdays, and those requests thankfully seem to be more common than not among his peer group. We don't really buy toys ourselves other than birthday and Christmas, and we have the kid go through his toys a couple of times a year to see what we can give away. And yet we still have too many toys. The weak link in our system has been the in-laws, who seem to think their seeing him is the kind of momentous occasion that demands a present, despite their being local and seeing him weekly, but I believe I have managed at last to turn off that spigot.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:41 AM
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25 was I.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:43 AM
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I keep on thinking I should do food for Christmas some year. I'm perfectly capable of generating homemade candy or something, and that at least goes away and doesn't clutter up people's houses.

It's the attractive gift packaging that defeats me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:44 AM
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In fairness, I'm probably not easy to shop for.

This is a perennial complaint about me, too! Please, really, don't get me anything! I really am not kidding.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:45 AM
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27: you need some scary labels to put on jars? I'm your man.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:47 AM
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My favorite gifts are 1) predictable and 2) food. One of my relatives has been sending me a mason jar of peanuts, raisins, and M&Ms every Christmas for more than a decade. I always look forward to it and it never disappoints. If any of you would like to give me a gift, please first have given me the same gift for a number of years. In conclusion, CHANGEBAD. Thank you and good night.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:48 AM
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20: What I meant by Yankee Swap was what E. Messily took it to mean, I think: everybody buys one non-specific piece of crap, and then each person draws one at random out of the pile. There might've been an option to take someone else's gift instead of taking one that was still wrapped, too. That stage was mercifully brief, so I don't really remember.

27: Yes, our particular brand of backsliding is that my wife now makes nice cookies for everybody every year. I think it's better than purchased presents, although I realize that we're kind of violating the "no gifts" accord that was so difficult to reach.


Posted by: Osgood Yousbad | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:49 AM
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My favorite gift is cash. To receive that is. I don't have any to give away.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:49 AM
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We have laundry baskets of squeekies. Fucking trip over half-dead squirrels and shredded bunnies. It's terrible!

The true answer of course, is to have no friends Or acquaintances. Or neighbors. Or distant relatives. Time and lethargy will make this problem solve itself! I promise.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:50 AM
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Fucking trip over half-dead squirrels and shredded bunnies

Don't drop acid, folks.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:51 AM
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things that mades noises and lit up, but didn't have batteries

I'm confused. Were they alive?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:54 AM
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The present I'd really like is time. I don't have the time to do stuff with the stuff I have already. Someone giving a gift that is an experience, rather than an item, forces the time to be cleared.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:55 AM
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Don't drop acid, folks.

Heh. The one time I dropped acid, I had a completely delightful experience (if you don't count the following case of poison ivy.) But there was a moment, hiking, when I was looking at a bare patch of dirt with cracks in it and an unpleasantly many-legged crawly thing emerging from the cracks, and I remember thinking "Boy, I'm glad I'm having a great time and in a completely cheerful mood. Because that could be really upsetting if I were even slightly disposed to be freaked out right now."


Posted by: Indira Gandhi | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:55 AM
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35: Mechanical noisemakers? Buck used to get new parents that FisherPrice 'popcorn popper' to annoy them. No batteries, but lots of noise.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:57 AM
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35- Well, they probably did have batteries. Just not batteries that you could take out. So the only way to disable them was to break them.

Mostly the disabling was to prevent my little brothers from playing with the toys and having the noises be made on purpose, but also because as the internal batteries died (or the wires got loose or whatever) the toys would start making their noises from the bottom of a closet in the middle of the night, and everyone found this disruptive.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:58 AM
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FisherPrice 'popcorn popper'

I love that thing, if I'm thinking of the same thing you're talking about. We don't have one, though.

the toys would start making their noises from the bottom of a closet in the middle of the night, and everyone found this disruptive

We have some puzzles that make animal sounds (because someone decided that puzzles these days need to make sounds), all of which have faulty wiring, so we get cows mooing every time we turn on or off the lights in the kids room, and roosters crowing when we open the closet doors. It's weird.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:03 AM
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Sorry.


Posted by: Interrupting Cow | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:04 AM
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40: Clear plastic dome on little wheels, with a long handle for pushing, and when you push it the little plastic balls under the dome bounce with a popping sound?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:05 AM
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42: Yes! That thing is fun, and non-annoying. It makes noise, but not bad noise. Someone got my kids an irish whistle. That's bad noise.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:07 AM
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Actually, I quite like a good Yankee Swap among friends. Although boy, howdy have I seen it create resentment. They're $20 items, people. If you don't get the one you want, and you really want it badly, you can afford to go buy one for yourself.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:07 AM
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I think the most upsetting one my brothers had was a set of action figure fighting guys. You would stand the doll by one foot on a structure with a platform and a handle, and when you twisted the handle, the platform would rotate, and when the platform rotated, the doll's other leg and both arms would swing wildly around. If one doll kicked or punched another doll in the button on its chest, it would disengage from the platform and make a tormented, defeated yelling noise.

As the toys got older and more beat-up, they started making tormented, defeated yelling noises at random times throughout the day and night. But there was no way to replace the batteries, or turn off the sounds. The only solution was to mail them to someone else's house.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:09 AM
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24: I think the fact that you did that is genuinely kind of a terrible thing to do to your family. They were trying to switch to a better system, and you deliberately fucked it up.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:18 AM
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I mean, in the scheme of things it's pretty small, but still, not nice.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:18 AM
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I think that this is an emotional problem, not a practical one. People have complex attachments to stuff which are caused by many more forces than just lifetime material affluence levels.

That said, I think for everyone with more time than money, gifts are a hassle (if there's something unaffordable, you want the red and not the blue one, or the 988 PSI model or whatever-- a particular thing, not any instance of a class), and the proposal to just ignore them is perfect. But this is basically a cultural stance, like only eating non-chain takeout or whatever. IME, too much stuff goes with not understanding that time is precious.

I have really enjoyed shows about hoarders, and liked this Havrilesky article in that connection:
http://www.salon.com/entertainment/tv/heather_havrilesky/2010/04/10/am_i_a_hoarder


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:19 AM
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46: It's absolutely not a better system. It's a worse system, and I didn't want to switch to it, so I didn't.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:20 AM
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Also, fuck you.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:21 AM
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What, you think you deserve kudos for behaving badly? Your family came to an agreement, and then you passive-aggressively fucked it up.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:24 AM
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tormented, defeated yelling noises

How did you know this (tormented, defeated)? I thought you were deaf.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:25 AM
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51: Look, dude, you don't know anything about my family, how many people were involved, whether or not there was an agreement, who agreed with me, who didn't, whether or not I was passive-agressive (NB you probably need to look up the definition of passive-aggressive), or anything else about the situation. "A genuinely terrible thing to do to my family"? Again, fuck you.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:27 AM
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49: I was a little puzzled by your objections to the name draw -- I can see the Yankee Swap getting squabbly, but if you want to cut down on stress and number of presents and so on, what's wrong with just buying for one person? The arguments for are very clear to me, but I don't get the arguments against.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:27 AM
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52: I wasn't, then.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:27 AM
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51
What, you think you deserve kudos for behaving badly? Your family came to an agreement, and then you passive-aggressively fucked it up.

First of all, you say "passive-aggressively" like it's a bad thing. Secondly, she says she "complained loudly to anyone who would listen about how dumb and offensive and stupid and Grinch-like and awful it all was", so bad or not I don't think passive-aggressive is even accurate.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:28 AM
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Okay, I'll concede I was wrong about "passive". Still, not cool.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:28 AM
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46, 52: What is this "pick on E. Messily day"?! Watch out! You're going to get your shins kicked!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:29 AM
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54: I object to the regimentation. I wanted to give presents to my mom and my siblings, and so did they. There had never been any expectation in my family that everyone would give a present to everyone else- people always just got presents for whomever they felt like it.

Randomly assigning one person made the whole thing much more stressful. One year, my uncle was assigned to a cousin he doesn't know, I was assigned to an aunt I don't like, and both of my brothers were assigned to my grandparents. All of these people had ideas for presents they wanted to give to people they were close to, had no idea what to give the people they were assigned, and were stressed out and annoyed by the process. It was dumb. I didn't play along.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:31 AM
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I don't want to participate in pick on E. Messily day, since she seems like a perfectly nice person.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:31 AM
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I like to get and give books. Helps keep one Educated, no?

I also like to get and give music and movies. Problem is that most music and movies are Stupid, yes?


Posted by: A Guest | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:32 AM
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Also, to clarify, there was no "agreement" - three people, at Thanksgiving one year, out of an extended family of 25ish, decided that they were going to assign names to everyone in the family. Others played along for a while. I didn't, I don't think I behaved badly, I'm not sorry, and the rest of my family concurs.

Apparently, Walt Someguy, we will just have to agree to disagree about who is cool and who is not.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:34 AM
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61: yes, no.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:34 AM
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59: Oh, I can see that. Doesn't make the name draw a bad idea where it's replacing an 'everyone buys for everyone' expectation, but if it's introducing an obligation to buy for someone you normally wouldn't, that's badly managed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:34 AM
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One Secret Santa outcome I've noticed is the tendency for someone with no clue what to get Person X to go the gag-gifts route, which, yeah, fine, tee-hee, but what a fucking waste of time and money.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:34 AM
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Most of everything, including books, is stupid.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:35 AM
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59: I agree. I think the Secret Santa thing is a big improvement in office situations where inexplicably there is a custom that everybody has to give each other person a present. But for a family group in which some people are much closer to others and presents are more or less random anyway? Not so much.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:37 AM
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52: Also, I often know what kinds of sounds things make. People tell me. I read stuff. Newsflash! Blind people frequently know what color they are wearing, and what other people look like, too!


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:38 AM
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62: In the interests of comity, look back at 24 and imagine you didn't know the story. I read it exactly like Walt did -- as if the rest of the family had arrived at a consensus decision to swap names to reduce present-giving stress, and you unilaterally made a fuss until everyone else gave in. And I thought you sounded as if you'd been a jerk. Now that you tell the story, you sound perfectly reasonable, but the way you told it in 24 made you sound awful.

And of course, Walt? That was an awfully aggressive way to go after someone on the basis of an incomplete story. I read it exactly like you did, but before you go getting in someone's face about something like that, ask a couple of questions next time?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:39 AM
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69: well, it was funnier that way. I assumed I would be given the benefit of the exaggeration. Next time I'll try to be more accurate.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:41 AM
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59: Ah, that makes sense. I might have agreed with LB, but what you're describing isn't what I had pictured.

My dad and his siblings and their spouses do a secret Santa thing and I think it works out pretty well, but they did it differently from your family. It's just divided up among the five of them, plus spouses. They are all welcome to get presents for all the kids/nieces/nephews and, theoretically, vice versa, but the presents for the kids are generally the same for all of us, allowing for gender and age - card, maybe candy, maybe cash or gift certificate.

So it's a large enough group that secret Santas save a non-negligible amount of time and money, but still small enough that not knowing people isn't a problem. As for wanting to get gifts for someone other than their designated target, I think they'd work out some kind of non-traditional gift - taking them out to dinner if they lived close together, hosting them for a vacation if not, etc.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:43 AM
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70: Yes, and I'm betting 45 isn't perfectly true to life either.

We demand absolute fidelity to the truth here. No exaggeration for comedic effects allowed!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:45 AM
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72: Are you calling me a liar! Stop picking on me or I'll kick you in the shins!


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:46 AM
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70: And even though I talk like it, I'm not actually the camp counsellor, so no one should take my exhortations to be clearer too seriously. (But I really am kind of glad Walt spoke up -- clearing up what I thought after 24 makes me happier, but I wouldn't have probed more on my own because it didn't seem polite.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:47 AM
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Yeah, I didn't appreciate how 46 would sound until after I hit post. I just imagined being on the receiving end of the story in 24, and got all outraged. It didn't occur to me that it was exaggerated.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:48 AM
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So does the "Please no gifts" bit in the post about that request not being honored mean that I'm going to end up looking like an asshat at the upcoming engagement party whose invitation had the "Please no gifts" instruction? Because, that's going to be unfortunate.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:48 AM
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73:(peep runs away in terror)


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:49 AM
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76: No, you'll look like the only decent person who respected their wishes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:49 AM
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See, LB subtly manipulated me into being the bad guy. Much like the camp counsellers of my youth.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:51 AM
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It feels like we're trapped in a "material goods are scarce" era of etiquette.

I disagree. The proliferation of gift giving occasions is driven primarily by marketing, not some natural evolution of preexisting etiquette, which serves merely as a constraint on marketing approaches. The US has less and less of an actual culture and more and more of a marketing environment. The type specimen for this phenomenon is the "tradition" of giving diamonds as an engagement gift, something manufactured out of whole cloth by De Beers. Demand for a lot of things middle class people buy isn't preexisting, floating out there in the social environment, it's created by highly paid advertising executives who use sophisticated techniques to manipulate people into wanting crap. The media dare not push back against this because they are funded primarily by advertising. The net effect is that we are bombarded with messages telling us to buy this or that bit of rubbish, and the overwhelming majority of media we consume that isn't explicitly advertising is either silent or actively complicit in more or less subtle ways.

OK, I'm getting a bit ranty and overstating the case, but the fact remains that giving gifts for any and every occasion isn't merely natural cultural evolution, it's also being made to happen by people with an agenda.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:52 AM
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78: And if not, you can always take 10(hey, I'm a musician, a rebel) as your fallback position.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:53 AM
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I read stuff. Newsflash!

OK. I was puzzled since the adjectives suggested direct experience, not trying for confrontation.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:54 AM
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83

Huh. Do other people buy presents except at birthdays and Christmas (or gift-giving holiday of your tradition)? I've noticed some tendency among relatives to buy non-candy Easter presents, but that's wrong so I've ignored it.

Other than that, though, I haven't noticed an expansion of gift-giving occasions. It's more that gift-giving is weird in a world where it's pretty easy (for middle class Americans) to buy the material goods they want on the scale that's plausible for a present.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:55 AM
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82: It is possible I overreacted to your question due to a generally heightened emotional atmosphere. My apologies for snapping at you.

Anyway, at the time, I wasn't deaf, so it was direct experience. Currently, I am deaf, so if it happened again, it wouldn't be.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:57 AM
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44 I will confess to some resentment once, albeit 93% in jest. I think it was an "under $5" thing and so everyone went in for dreadful and my friend Nate found this godawful but sort of adorable light-up skyline-of-Chicago clock which was wrested from my possession. And then later given to me. And then later it broke. The agony of it all!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:58 AM
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When my extended family went to drawing names to give gifts, it turned into "everyone give someone else a gift card", which is the most pointless thing ever.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:03 AM
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My mom likes to buy gifts for us for fairly random holidays. But they're small, and she enjoys doing it, and they're always well chosen, so I appreciate it. (It does occur to me that I failed to get her a birthday present. In June. I should probably rectify that.)

Also, don't things like Amazon wish lists cut down on the amount of crap that you get that you don't want? I find it helpful, at any rate. Plus, I always want books.

We don't have much of a gift-giving culture, really, outside of our immediate family. It helps that there aren't really any kids in my family. I have one younger cousin but we're not close. I do always feel terrible not sending out cards like the rest of my mom's family does, but cards are expensive and I am lazy and.....yeah. No real justification there. I do have to buy four father's day cards (father, step-father #1, step-father #2, grandfather) so I think this makes up for my laziness the rest of the year.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:07 AM
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80
OK, I'm getting a bit ranty and overstating the case

Ranty, nothing. I'll try to remember to quote you when I make the same case this winter.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:14 AM
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Do other people buy presents?

Yes. Material goods fulfill emotional needs for many people. Easter, valentines, thanksgiving. Presents on mother's and father's day, but not from kids to parents. The surplus crap from garage sales, I would say this is part of the same impulse.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:17 AM
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Thanksgiving? That's screwy. As is Valentines for anyone not a romantic partner or prospect (well, the kids get a little box of chocolates). As is mother's and father's day, other than presents handmade by small children for their own parents.

I haven't seen that in my own family, but I disapprove strongly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:20 AM
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The type specimen for this phenomenon is the "tradition" of giving diamonds as an engagement gift, something manufactured out of whole cloth by De Beers.

If anyone hasn't read the classic article on this by Edward Jay Epstein, you really should.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:23 AM
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83: Occasions for gift giving (based on personal experience):
Birthdays
Christmas
Easter (food mainly, little presents for kids)
Bridal Showers
Weddings
Housewarming
Baby Showers
First Communion/Confirmation/Thread Ceremony/Bar|Bat Mitzvah/other coming of age ceremonies
High School Graduation
College Graduation
Wedding anniversaries (the big ones like 10th, 20th etc)

I feel like I've missed some, but those are the ones that stick out in my mind. Given my druthers (and druthers do make a fine gift), it would be just birthdays through age 21, Christmas, wedding and divorce. That last is the one where you really need the crap you get given on your wedding day, since chances are you were shacked up and living in sin with all the accoutrements of domesticity before the big day anyway, but afterwards you need to re-acquire roughly half of them in order to set up your new household.

Oh, I've also seen attempts to turn Hanukkah and Diwali into gift giving occasions, though in both cases it flopped with my sample subset of the target audience.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:32 AM
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You know who's a moron? ME! Right after I post about engagement rings I leave engagement off my list of gift giving occasions.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:37 AM
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Hanukkah is a kid-present gift-giving occasion, and always was, right? Gelt isn't newfangled, it's traditional.

None of the rest of the things in 92 seem particularly new or pernicious -- I've noticed a little Easter creep, but the rest are fairly longstanding. I'd still like to see giftgiving toned down for all of them, but the concept of a graduation present, e.g., isn't a recent marketing invention.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:47 AM
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The whole concept of made-bail gifts seems to me a little misguided.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:50 AM
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Pretty much the only nice thing about being poor for a while is that people really stop expecting presents from you. These days my family gets a call and maybe a homemade card from me on their birthdays. All of the kids got a piece of art for Christmas (Thomas the train! a portrait of the dog! elf-warrior-princess!). I sort of doubt that the family misses the physical, store-bought gift items---and they could probably do with just the phone call.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:52 AM
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The one true Easter gift is a one-pound box of See's candy.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:53 AM
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Hanukkah is a kid-present gift-giving occasion, and always was, right?

"Always was" if the gift is limited strictly to gelt. The whole "8 days of presents" thing is a modern innovation, an example of the corruption of all that's good and pure by Christianity.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:56 AM
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The thing everyone is objecting to is obligate gift-giving, right? Because I feel like if gift-giving is being done right, you shouldn't be feeling obligated to reciprocate immediately, so the occasion doesn't really matter.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:56 AM
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We got a ton of gifts for our engagement party, which shocked me. (I was actually a little confused that one even had such a thing as an engagement party, but the people who threw it for us were really into it.) People had tried to warn me that we should be registered in advance, but I just couldn't wrap my head around the idea that people would bring us gifts for a party celebrating the fact that we were going to have a bigger party seven months later.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:56 AM
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Because I feel like if gift-giving is being done right, you shouldn't be feeling obligated to reciprocate immediately, so the occasion doesn't really matter.

Yes, but you see, the mana differential compels you to repay the gift eventually, so it's never really "free".


Posted by: Marcel Mauss | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 10:57 AM
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Actually, for someone who had spent the previous ten years slowly amassing her stuff, carefully considering each purchase and thrift store find, the deluge of wedding stuff was sort of stressful for me identity-wise. Wait, I'm no longer the person with five mismatched mugs, all of which have a story behind them? (Stole this one from a roommate, bought this one to cheer myself up after a breakup, found this one at Goodwill, etc.) I still have the mugs, but they've migrated to the top of the cabinet now. And I must admit, the matching china mugs are pretty nice.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 11:02 AM
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27: martha stewart's site has tons of attractive, free downloads for gift labels/packaging if you give food. some of them work best when printed on card stock, which not all printers can handle, but usually it's fine. also, ikea sells various sets of attractive cardboard boxes before christmas.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 11:23 AM
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27/103: what's wrong with a gift bag?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 11:25 AM
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103: Or, Target sells that sort of thing -- there's a million ways to acquire nice holiday packaging, it's just the kind of project I find defeating. Cooking yes, giftwrapping no.

Hmmm. I wonder if I could get Sally interested in managing the packaging.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 11:26 AM
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104: There's also mailing and so on. Look, my capacity to be defeated by projects is remarkable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 11:28 AM
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There are motivational websites for this problem. I'll helpfully point out that insurmountable opportunities can be broken down into manageable chunks.

Right now, you could take a few pages from the back of your daily planner and jot down the steps-- leave here, go to store, choose harmoniously matching colors for wrapping materials, and so on.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 11:34 AM
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Mailing attractive packaging is a bitch, agreed, but I'm not sure why it's necessarily more difficult if there's food inside the packaging (assuming it's food that would survive the mailing process, regardless of packaging). I genuinely don't know what I'm talking about here, so there may be real issues, I just don't understand what they are.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 11:36 AM
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What makes it more difficult is that I would be doing the packaging, rather than Amazon. I'd kind of enjoy making candy or something, and it'd be a better present than random crap, but I'd have to mail it.

But nothing special about food, except that I'd need to buy boxes or something for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 11:44 AM
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107: I will cut you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 11:44 AM
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promises, promises


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 11:45 AM
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My wife, pbuh, takes all sort of random "holiday" occasions to give presents to the kids, in lieu of actual shopping. Leprechauns, Easter Bunny, Labor Day gremlins all make an appearance bringing socks and underwear, as well as fun stuff.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 11:54 AM
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Socks are fun.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 11:55 AM
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I always ask for socks for Christmas. I like having nice socks but I don't like actually spending the money on them.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:00 PM
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What makes it more difficult is that I would be doing the packaging, rather than Amazon.

Huh--I'll confess, I'd have never thought of that. This is something I'd only expect to hear from someone twenty years younger than you. How did you give gifts prior to 1998?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:02 PM
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I have been encouraging friends and family to honor with gifts the occasion of my half-birthday, but everyone seems to be laboring under the illusion that you can't have half birthdays anymore after you're like eleven or twelve. Party poopers, the lot of them.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:04 PM
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Did 115 sound mean? I didn't intend it to.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:05 PM
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115: She doesn't remember. Do you remember that far back, Brock?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:05 PM
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115: Badly wrapped, and resentfully. Giftwrapping is a blind spot.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:08 PM
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||

Is it considered rude to pass gas loudly, at a urinal, in a professional context?

|>


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:11 PM
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Didn't you learn how to wrap presents as a youth? It's like making a bed, come on!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:11 PM
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Let's all gang up on Liz.

120: fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:12 PM
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How does one pass gas professionally?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:12 PM
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My sainted wife is one of those types who can gift wrap without tape! I think it must be some sort of sorcery.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:12 PM
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one of those types who can gift wrap without tape!

I'm sure sure I even understand what this means. I've fairly sure I've never seen it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:13 PM
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sure not


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:14 PM
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120 was a serious question.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:14 PM
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Only if the "colleague" is peering eagerly around the stall divider. Otherwise farting is like smiling, a gesture of submissiveness.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:16 PM
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Mine was a serious answer. You're making water anyway, aren't you? It's the fucking bathroom, isn't it?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:16 PM
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How does one pass gas professionally?

Thus.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:18 PM
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My sainted wife is one of those types who can gift wrap without tape!

Ooh, one of my sisters can do this, and it is really quite amazing. She comes out with all sorts of craftygirl flourishes (but she's someone who can entertain a small child at a restaurant by turning the paper placement into an origami frog).

LB, for sending food, I think your best bet is to go to Michael's and get Martha Stewart's food-giving boxes and bags with matching stickers and tags (yes, you can download some stuff from her site, but if you don't like giftwrapping, you probably also don't like downloading and printing up your own tags, I suspect).

I also hate giftwrapping, and I do a very poor job at it.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:19 PM
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I'm sure sure I even understand what this means. I've fairly sure I've never seen it.

She's big on ribbons. The ribbons hold the folds in place. She thinks scotch tape is "cheating".

Her family were jewelry retailers, which was where she learned that skill, at a young age.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:21 PM
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Farting in the bathroom is fine; it's the celebratory, post-fart fist-pump maneuver that makes you seem uncouth, Brock.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:27 PM
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121: Spread a comforter haphazardly over it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:28 PM
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I'm not sure why people are assuming that I was the culprit. Perhaps I'm just wondering whether it's okay to judge.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:31 PM
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134: One of my brothers consistently did this with Christmas presents, growing up. Only he used (usually clean, I think) towels instead of comforters.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:31 PM
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136: today is actually my oldest son's birthday (4!), and his present from us was, in fact, just "wrapped" in an old sarong.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:33 PM
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Because the impact of spoiled food must have given you the intestinal fauna of a rat, but the human digestive tract, though extremely short compared to other primates, is enormous. Any immunocompromised colleagues of yours would be already dead.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:37 PM
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just "wrapped" in an old sarong

One more story. While in Bali on our honeymoon, we stopped at a local open air market. My wife bought yards of colorful fabric to use as wrapping, or anything else she wanted cuz the stuff was so damned cheap. We still have some, I think.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:37 PM
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I can't actually preview this to confirm it's the video I'm thinking of, but if it is this guy's bit about unicorns farting rainbows cracks me up every time. Because I'm eleven.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 12:43 PM
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How did you give gifts prior to 1998?

I give them unwrapped -- generally inside of a bag.

I don't care if it's rude, the people to whom I am giving gifts are friends and they understand.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 1:16 PM
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I'm surprised that Brock has a 24-year-old son.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 1:35 PM
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142: ???


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 1:38 PM
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137: Happy Birthday, Brock Jr!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 1:38 PM
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130: That might be the best-written Wikipedia article I've seen. For one example: "In 1894, the managers of the Moulin Rouge sued Pujol for an impromptu exhibition he gave to aid a friend struggling with economic difficulties. For the measly sum of 3,000 francs (Pujol's usual fee being 20,000 francs per show), the Moulin Rouge lost their star attraction, who proceeded to set up his own traveling show called the Theatre Pompadour."

(a) Wikipedia generally frowns on editorializing like that, (b) I'm impressed that anyone would bother editorializing about a performer's business dispute a hundred years ago, and (c) yes, that's right, you've heard of the legendary Moulin Rouge, and this guy was once its star attraction.

Later: "Johnny Depp has mentioned in interviews in Playboy, Vogue (September 1994) and other magazines that he would love to portray Pujol in a film." Somebody get right on this, please. And no, I don't feel the least bit juvenile for all this.

138
Because the impact of spoiled food must have given you the intestinal fauna of a rat

Should it be "flora"? Remember who we're talking about here.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 1:41 PM
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143
142: ???

To math nerds, the exclamation mark is the factorial symbol, which means "multiply this by all the numbers between it and 1". So, 4! = 4 x 3 x 2 1 = 24.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 1:43 PM
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146: Thanks for the explanation!

I did actually know about the ! as symbol for factorial, but the last time I encountered it was pre-1998.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 1:46 PM
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That said, I think for everyone with more time than money, gifts are a hassle,...., and the proposal to just ignore them is perfect.

I feel shorter on time than money, actually, generally.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 1:46 PM
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Whoops, wrote it backwards. More time than money makes gifts nice, and vice versa.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 1:52 PM
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There are lots of well written Wikipedia pages now. I think its because for topics like history, the pages are written by procratinating history grad students rather than procrastinating computer science grad students.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 1:58 PM
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flora

yes, gut biota and flora is the usual phrase, and it's not just a technicality, as a bunch are fungi.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 1:58 PM
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multiply this by all the numbers between it and 1

All the integers.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 2:05 PM
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The climax of his act however involved him farting his impression of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Best sentence I've read all day.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 2:14 PM
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We take God's point of view here, nosflow: the only numbers are integers.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 2:18 PM
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My dad always wonders what to get his daughters, and has settled on asking one of us what we need. Then we both get that, exactly matching. We have twin drills, longhandled pruning shears, stepladders and toasters. I use all those things regularly, but for a while when I was living in my home but my sister was renting, his arrangement worked less well for her. She should have called him more, is what I say.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 2:22 PM
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We have twin drills, longhandled pruning shears, stepladders and toasters

With pink unicorns on them to make them more "girly"?


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 2:24 PM
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After he went to all the trouble of turning us into infrastructure engineers who never wear skirts? Now, in our thirties, he would break out the rhinestones and unicorns?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 2:28 PM
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Better late than never?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 2:34 PM
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Sure. Maybe he just watched "Paper Moon", or some other father-daughter weepy. Maybe not.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 2:36 PM
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Toasters can be girly!


Posted by: OPINIONATED CYLON NUMBER SIX | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 2:40 PM
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I've never understood girliness to be among his aspirations for his daughters.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 2:43 PM
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113-114: fewer sock jokes at the Unfogged dressing room.


Posted by: A Guest | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 2:49 PM
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I've never understood girliness to be among his aspirations for his daughters.

IME girliness comes from the mom anyway. Many dads prefer the tomboy, then freak out when their little slugger gets tits.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 2:51 PM
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152: sqrt(pi)


Posted by: A Guest | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 2:51 PM
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girliness comes from the mom

That would explain Sally. And me, come to think.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 2:55 PM
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Catching up I've been experiencing an entertaining mental whiplash reading people's comments about presents starting from the assumption they were talking about farting. 123/124 were particularly entertaining. For a moment I thought TLL might have married my ex.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 3:40 PM
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My family has started wrapping presents in cloth, which is kept and generally passed around and reused. Some people make bags, some hem squares, some spread it haphazardly like a comfortor.

Surprisingly, one can find pretty enough cheap cloth for no more than nice wrapping paper costs.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:34 PM
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What really annoys me about gift-giving is that I end up giving the more expensive presents to the richer people. It's too odd, in all directions, otherwise. And yet, the richer people and I would generally be just as happy exchanging socks as a representation of love (cold wet climate: we love socks).


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 8:35 PM
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137: Huh, mine too, except he's 14.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-29-10 9:56 PM
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until about halfway through i was like "doesn't everyone just buy fifths of whisky? whats to think about?" i guess that isn't what this is abotu.

my moms family has started doing the yankee swap, but the first year it made about 1/3 of us pissed (uh, we play to win?) so we made the rules less competitive ("fun"). since grnadkids are still in school or unemployed, we still get cash tho.

the last few years most of the gifts have been 2/3 kitchen gadgets that everyone wants, 'man' tools that a few people want, plus a few goofy gadgets gramps buys because he gets a kick out it. plus random cash stuff in the gifts makes it mroe fun too.

um, anyone remember that the cardbord boxes were the best gifts? when i get nephews/neices/kids, i'm going the be the asshole who doesn't give gifts.

the gift giving annoyance on the other side of the family is that about 2/3 of the gifts go to grandma, which means they are pricey trinkety stuff like vases or perfuse taht goes and sits on a shelft somewhere and is going to get thrown out when you know. i mean, it was more annoying when i was five.

RE: renting/handyhominid tools: doesn't it seem odd that when one is less financially secure, we purachse house maintanance services via the landlady, but not once you buy a half million dollars of drywall?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 1:35 AM
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What i think is odd is that there are people older than say 14 who think that gift giving is enjoid by the giftee more than the gifter. other than money.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 1:46 AM
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Totally OT, but I know you all love a book thread. Friend of mine wants recommendations of "audiobooks [to listen to whilst cycling (not on roads)] of something classic that I probably wouldn't read but would enjoy listening to and might be improved by. Needs to be not too real life and not involve anything scary, upsetting or thrillerish". I would also add that it should probably avoid pregnancy or babies. She's English, but would listen to anything from anywhere I guess. She likes to read a lot of historical fiction. So, improving fluff - suggestions please!


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 3:58 AM
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Needs to be not too real life and not involve anything scary, upsetting or thrillerish"

Umm... You're basically hinting at Catherine Cookson here, you know. I assume she's read Georgette Heyer to death (or is she too thrillerish?).

This is non-fiction, but very narrative. Undemanding and excellently researched and written.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 4:36 AM
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I think Catherine Cookson might be a little too gritty, to be honest. I've never read her, but I imagine her sort of sentimental stuff carries a high risk of lost babies of one sort or another. But the Henrietta Howard book looks excellent.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 5:21 AM
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Classic, not scary or upsetting or involving pregnancy or babies? If she likes Trollope, she could listen to Trollope for years. (Assuming there are audiobooks available. But why wouldn't there be?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 6:01 AM
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2

So far, I have not noticed anyone being particularly put out about not receiving a gift when one could be expected.

Apparently you don't have a girl friend.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 6:43 AM
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176: Homonormativist.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 6:52 AM
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177: James, you haven't been accused of that before, have you? Have you finally started to succumb to our bad influence?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 7:12 AM
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||

If you have frozen mice, be sure to cook them before eating to avoid salmonella. That is all.

||>


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 7:41 AM
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179: On hot days snakes really enjoy micicles.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 7:45 AM
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181

180: I would rather have a mouse in my house than a snake. Which, given how the little mammals creep in every winter, is probably a good thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 7:47 AM
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182

And I'm starting to get angry at the fish. I told it to shit in one corner of the tank so that I didn't have to change the water so often, but it won't listen.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 7:55 AM
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183

Paradise Lost kicks ass as an audiobook. The guy who does book 1 in Librivox (north of England accent) does a realy good Satan.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 7:55 AM
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184

Speaking of bad books to give people:
CA once gave his brother a copy of Galatea 2.2 for Christmas. On Christmas eve, his brother had been dumped by his girlfriend of Dutch parentage, who had recently moved back to the Netherlands, and, in discovering a new and more Dutch identity, decided that they couldn't be together anymore.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 8:02 AM
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185

182: Try farting your request. You may think it's not a herring, but we know that herring show up in the unlikeliest of places. Plus you might get canonized, so be sure to have witnesses. Video would be good, too.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 8:02 AM
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186

185: The fish stares at me on taco night. Now I wonder if I didn't accidentally say something about his mother.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 8:05 AM
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187

From 185, this is pretty great:

Wilson and his colleagues named the phenomenon Fast Repetitive Tick, which makes for the rather mischievous acronym, FRT. But unlike the human version, these FRTs are thought to bring the fish closer together.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 8:08 AM
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188

One of the freakiest statistics I ever saw in my life was a study 10 years or so ago that found 8 out of 10 books on loan from British libraries were written by Catherine Cookson.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 8:13 AM
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189

Oh no! Yesterday's Modern Love is by a friend of mine! And it is unreadable just like all the others!

At least it isn't about how awful some person is.


Posted by: Wilfrid Laurier | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 8:17 AM
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190

188: Can I claim smug superiority points for not knowing who that is?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 8:17 AM
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191

190. You can, but nobody would be impressed.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 8:23 AM
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192

Great Eloquence Seems Awkward (ATM)


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 8:38 AM
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193

172: Re-read Vanity Fair recently and loved it as much as the first time.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 12:15 PM
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194

Re-read Vanity Fair recently and loved it as much as the first time

Heh- Me too. I have a feeling Becky Sharp was meant by Thackery to be some horrible character, when she seemed normal to me.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 12:26 PM
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195

Vanity Fair was my first suggestion to her!


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 07-30-10 12:54 PM
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