I am a gift card-girl. I like gift cards. I give gift cards. I don’t care if you’re a newborn baby or celebrating your 100th birthday. Gift cards for everyone! I don’t know what you already own. I don’t know if your tastes have changed. Honestly, if I start shopping for you… I really just end up shopping for myself. So here’s a $25 gift card. Go knock yourself out.
Some naysayers may argue that gift cards lack thought and sincerity or that it’s the easy way out. You know what lacks thought and sincerity? Another f-ing coffee mug with a bottle of rancid hand lotion sticking out of it. Bath salts. What the hell is that?!? It’s like giving a gift that says, “I think you would make a great human stew. Here’s some salt to begin the tenderizing process, deary!”
True – gift cards may be the easy way out – but who started the ridiculous trend that easy equates to bad? What the hell ever happened to “work smarter – not harder”?
So go buy what makes you happy and leave me out of the process.
Historically, that is how I also distribute teacher gifts. Teachers don’t get paid shit. Well, actually, they do get paid shit. So I feel like the least I can do for them is give a gift from which they can get some real use.
This year, however, HRH (Her Royal Highness) disagreed. “Mama, this time don’t give gift cards. The teachers will think we don’t care and we’re lazy!”
“Baby, they already know I’m lazy. I make sure to tell each and every one of them this information at the beginning of every school year. It assuages the ‘can you help in the classroom’ letters. But, I assure you, gift cards do NOT mean we don’t care. Just the opposite, they mean we care enough to have them get things they REALLY want or need.”
She wanted to be giving. But she wasn’t going to give up on this one. Instead, she was about to understand how to give till it hurts. So I obliged.
“Tell me who we need to buy gifts for and what you think we should get for them”
“Ms. B, my 1st grade teacher. She’s good at math. Let’s get her a math book.”
“No, no. Gifts are things that would make her happy. Something she would enjoy. Nobody enjoys math. Except Uncle Jeffy… cuz he’s weird… and Daddy… cuz math equals money.”
“Books, then. Books she can read to the class.”
“Again. Something that’s just for her. Would you like it if I gave you a laundry basket for your birthday so you could help me do laundry?”
“NO! Help you do laundry… you’re funny, Mama!”
“Yeah. Haha… funny. Let’s move on. Who else?”
“The PE teachers. They’re really healthy, so let’s get them a case of water.”
“Uh… OR some sort of really neat, unusual cup to drink their healthy water (or wine, or margarita, or whatever). Next?”
“The music teacher. She asked me what kind of music I wanted to play in class one day. I said Hip-Hop! She said she didn’t have any. What kind of music teacher doesn’t have Hip-Hop?! So let’s get her a Hip-Hop CD!”
“Alright, iTunes gift card it is! Just let me gift-card this one, okay? It’s still music-y.”
“Fine! Ms. S. is next. Let’s get her something Hawaiian.”
“Hawaiian? What? Where did that come from??”
“She teaches Spanish!”
“No, baby. In Hawaii, they speak Hawaiian. Hawaii is not a Spanish-speaking… “
“Then something that says, ‘Aloha!’”
“Really? Aloha is HAWAIIAN!!! SHE’S NOT TEACHING YOU HAWAIIAN!!!”
“But she says it every day!”
“No. I’m guessing she says, ‘Hola’. Not ‘Aloha’. Good Lord! I could really use that neat, unusual drink cup right about now.”
“Oh. You’re probably right.”
“Then a Spanish music CD. If she’s Spanish, she likes to dance. And Spanish music makes me want to dance… Every. Single. Time!! Watch! I can dance Spanishy!” (HRH begins doing some sort of hybrid Hip-Hop-Flamenco dance ensemble in the middle of the store. Meanwhile, I consider the best place, nearby, to get a margarita)
Gift shopping was a slow, painful process; but she was starting to get the hang of it. Sort of.
We were back to the 1st grade teacher, Ms. B. We still had no idea how to proceed. Jewelry is usually safe and nice, so we headed to the jewelry counter.
“This, Mama! This! This! It’s perfect!” Ms. B, lately, has become an ice cream icon in HRH’s eyes. Between scooping for a fund-raising benefit at an ice cream shoppe, winning a class ice cream party for raising the most cancer research money, and participating in a reading-for-ice-cream contest; Ms. B may as well be driving a tricked out, musical ice cream truck (according to HRH). The gift she had selected was a pretty silver necklace with a tiny pastel-studded ice cream cone pendant. “Well, it’s kind of an academia-imposed ice cream association. But I like your focus and thought process, so let’s roll with it.”
“Last, let’s get art supplies for the art teacher. I bet she’d LOVE these markers! Who doesn’t love markers??”
“Me. Markers and glitter are the scourge of elementary parents around the world. But I suspect YOU want the markers and it’s not really about the teacher.”
“GAH! This is hard. Let’s just get her a gift card.”
“Oh no! You started this. You’re gonna finish it. Let’s go back to jewelry…”
“Yes! I’ve seen bracelets on her hands, before!”
After guiding her past the jewelry hooker-wear, the punk-rock revival pieces, and the Hello Kitty sets; we found a couple of interesting, yet ‘safe’ jewelry options. I think.
“Okay. I think we’re done. Let’s go pay for all this stuff and get gift receipts so they can return anything they don’t really like.”
“Return? Then why did we just spend all this time picking the perfect gifts if they’re gonna RETURN IT ALL???”
“Sweetheart, welcome to the same page I’m on.”