Editorial: A solution to gifts that nobody needs or wants

Column By Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin

Let’s be real. Buying for others is difficult. And stressful. Ah, the gifts. Let the shopping frenzy begin. Purchasing gifts that someday will be regifted to others in the original box. And eventually, these unused items will end up in a thrift store or spend eternity in a landfill.

Think about the gifts of Christmas past that you didn’t need or want. You appreciated the sentiment behind the gift and thanked the giver, but that was one ugly sweater. Ugh.

I’ll pass on Snoop Dogg’s new cookbook. “From Crook to Cook” serves only to take more of your hard-earned paycheck. I don’t want to see this recipe of disasters under my tree. Sorry Snoop. Don’t feel bad. I don’t want to deck my halls with Martha Stewart’s goofy goodies either.

Toaster Grilled Cheese Bags are not for me. Too cheesy of a gift. Wah-wah.

Herbal Warming Slippers sound too Zen for me. I like toasty toes as well as the next gal, but fuzzy socks are my favorite.

Why do individuals engage in zany buying rituals? You purchase gifts and put the receipts in the boxes so family members and friends can return the items after the holidays—so everybody wastes time standing in long lines. Spread that festive misery!

What about gag gifts? That works for some families, while others haggle over the amount everyone has to abide by.

The 2020 Pooping Pooches White Elephant Gag Gift Calendar is funny and gross. But at $16.99, that’s an expensive laugh.

The Potty Putter Toilet Time Golf Game may interfere with bowel movements, so please don’t bring this to a passing party.

In case both conservatives and liberals attend the office party, avoid the Donald Trump Stretchy Keychain and the Hillary Clinton Novelty Toilet Paper as gag gifts. Not everyone loves political humor.

What about the White Elephant idea? Each guest brings a wrapped used item. You do get rid of something you don’t want, but you usually get something else you don’t want.

Gift cards can be stuck in your purse or wallet and easily forgotten. I’ve got several of these with a small balance leftover—that I forget to use.

It’s so wrong to donate money to a charity on behalf of a loved one. And then give them a card that explains how wild boars are suffering. They will call you a Grinch behind your back or a dopey do-gooder in front of your face.

Homemade holiday foods are yummy, but it takes time and effort to prepare and package. Hug and thank the person who still bakes.

A professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School released his book “Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays.” Of course, retailers disagree with a passion for peddling their products.

Our environment does not like holidays. Boxes, bows, bags, and wrapping paper increase the colossal pile of stuff in garbage dumps.

What about gifts for children?

Cheap and flashy plastic junk made to look like toys fill playrooms. A giant mountain of toys can overwhelm kids. Too many sparkling presents under the tree do not teach creativity or gratitude. According to a 2018 study in the journal Infant Behavior and Development, an environment with fewer toys is better for kids. Fewer toys resulted in healthier play and deeper cognitive development. So, tame that toy overload. And spent winter playing outside in the snow.

Creative building with Legos is fun, but a bazillion of them in every corner, drawer, and closet produces chaos. Teens do not need the latest technology upgrades.

Each Christmas brings a boatload of TV commercials for the newest must-have toys or gadgets. Gimme. Gimme. Gimme. Just because a toy is a bargain at a thrift store, doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Credit card debt does not make a merry Christmas.

Downsize the gifts and spend money on holiday concerts and outings. Offer fun family experiences instead of bookoo toys and electronic gadgets.

So, did you get everything you wanted? Stop asking that question to kids after gifts are opened. Our culture has run amuck on material possessions and instant gratification.

What’s the solution? Give the gift of green. Cash. What better way to stimulate the economy than givers and receivers spending their dollars after Christmas? Ask your children to pick what two affordable toys they want. Parents can select and buy one of the toys to offer a surprise on Christmas morning. Grandparents can purchase the other item.

Many families try to find a balance between over-commercialized-everything, fostering greed, and the true meaning of Christmas. Can pretend Santa be too generous with gift-giving?

“The Christmas Heart”: “Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide-open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history because it has meant the pouring into a sick world the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years . . . Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart.”—George Matthew Adams

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Ohio.

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