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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Slack-A-Doodle-Do: A post which eventually gets around to money

It's too cold in my office to work today. The temperature is reportedly adjustable, but I have never noticed the slightest change in temperature when I fiddle with the radiators against my wall.

I have a bad feeling one of the women who I supervise has overslept again. Two weeks ago, I had to call her and wake her up at 11:00. It wasn't the first time. Makes me feel like her mother, which is odd, because she's four years older than me, and also jealous, because I would love to be still in bed at this hour. I don't think I've ever slept through the beginning of work, a class, or anything else important. Oversleeping for me means waking up fifteen minutes before I absolutely have to leave the house and rushing out the door without showering. I must have an internal alarm or something.

She just called. Indeed, she took some cold medicine and forgot to set her alarm. She'll be here at 11:30. Well, at least I don't have to call her.

This week I'm continuing to work on using up my weird ingredients. I'm eating bacon burgers, corn chowder made with dry-milk cream soup mix (contrary to my expectations, the only unpleasant part of the chowder is the freezer taste of the frozen corn), and grits with cheese. Oh, and Christmas candy. I just ate a white-chocolate snowman as a morning snack.

I have mixed feelings about Christmas. I hate getting stuff I don't like as presents. Really hate it. Unlike a lot of people, I'm pretty okay with disposing of/regifting the stuff, but I just hate the phenomenon of something I don't like coming into my house without me choosing it. And since I'm not going to just throw away something brand-new, it takes time and/or energy to regift, donate, or use it up.

As a result of this feeling, which has increased sharply in the last couple of years, I'm becoming really careful about what I buy for other people. Family is easy because they give me wish lists, so I can know that the gifts I buy them will be un-annoying. R. and I decided not to buy each other presents this year--we'll do birthdays, but not Christmas.

But two of the women I supervise gave me little gifts this year, and though I really should get them something in return, I'm finding it hard. Special office supplies? Who really needs office supplies? I personally have at least a five-year supply of post its, not to mention a massive stash of paperclips, bulldog clips, pens, etc. Frog-shaped paperclips are cute, but never work as well as plain old paperclips. Lotion? God, takes me forever to use up, and what if they don't like the scent? Candles? Same scent issue, plus is that really a good gift for the one who has kids? I'm pretty sure I'm just going to go the chocolate/cookies route, even though I'm fairly sure one of them isn't big on sweets. As a New Year's gift, since I have clearly already missed the Christmas window.

The office gifts I got this year were pretty non-stuff: a Starbucks card, soap, and a tote bag, which I will probably eventually use. Over Thanksgiving, a friend's kids bought me "Christmas" presents that I threw away as soon as I got home. I felt pretty horrible about that, since they're kids, but what the heck am I going to do with a lip-gloss set made for tweens? My brother and sister-in-law gave me some great homemade gifts--fudge sauce and Christmas ornaments, which were personalized (i.e., cute animals and an ornament that says "I love Chicago").

And then there were my parents. Sigh. I hope they don't read this. I gave them the address once but I don't think they quite understand what a blog is. First and foremost, they gave R. and I one absolutely fantastic gift: a trip to Korea! Wonderful. I'd been angsting over how I was going to carve the money for that out of my poverty-line budget, and R. didn't think he could go at all unless I seriously subsidized him. I would have been over the moon with just that one gift. But there was some other stuff involved. A bracelet that, even if it were my style, would be seriously annoying to wear. Bookends shaped like teddy bears (what?). And a small stone rooster. I guess that was it. So not a total overload of stuff. But it was still irritating to get things I knew I would never use.

Am I the only one who's Scroogy in this way? I love Christmas itself: the music, food, family, pine trees, etc. But minimalistic me really hates the stuff aspect.

14 comments:

Cheryl said...

I just finished going through my children's gifts, and setting aside the gifts to give away. I deliberatly try to stop them from opening some of the packages, because it makes it easier to give the toys away. I get annoyed at how much stuff they get, and how much of it is stuff they don't need (they just received their *fifth* ride on truck. I have two sons, and a small house. How can they possibly need FIVE of these things?). So: forgive the rant, but it was meant to agree with you. I think lots of people can get scroogy about unneccesary/unwanted gifts.

Early Retirement Extreme said...

I am the master scrooge. Birthdays too. Both days almost always make me miserable ... well maybe that's too strong a word, but the expectation of unneeded stuff that I subsequently have to somehow to get rid off always gets me down.

I have managed to convince most of my surroundings that I don't want gifts. I keep a regifting box for those who still don't get it. Freecycle usually takes all. The biggest problem is getting gift cards seeing as I don't buy things from stores very much. Generally I manage to get DW to use them to buy presents for people for next xmas.

Working Rachel said...

@cheryl: FIVE ride-on trucks? That's insane.

@jacob: I just caught on to the "buy other people gifts with my gift cards" idea this year--much better than buying myself a book I don't want.

Chris said...

Ah, Christmas gifts. Hard to escape them. I think it would be great if we lived in a culture that was non-materialistic enough to have some other fun thing to do at Christmas, but sadly we don't. So I try to go with the flow.

I view gift opening as a giant social exercise. I really enjoy watching others open their gifts, seeing their reactions, and making conversation about them. I am also getting much better at having actually positive things to say about gifts for which I will never have any use or desire.

Then, always have an escape plan! I always have a bag or box in the house full of stuff to give to Goodwill; a lot of it is aging electronics or clothing that doesn't fit anymore, but sometimes unwanted gifts get in there too.

Also, I'm glad you seem to enjoy the gifts from Vicki and me (including Flakey the Silly Snowman). It seems a great coincidence that you know I do read this blog. Hmm. Happy New Year!

Chris said...

As if I didn't say enough just now, I wanted to add: work gifts do really suck. I refuse to do gift-giving at the work place, because (on both ends) it's usually cheap and impersonal.

Carrie said...

I don't think you're a total scrooge. I feel similarly about Christmas gifts. I hate getting candles and body wash and lotions. It clearly demonstrates to me that the gifter doesn't know me very well at all. We try hard to choose one meaningful gift for each person we buy for. I guess sometimes we fail, but if so at least they only have one gift to rehome.

My parents asked us what we wanted this year and I told them to look at our wedding registry but they got us nothing from the registry and instead got things we totally didn't need, including another variation on Monopoly.

Last January we had an auction party with monopoly money for all of the unwanted gifts people received. It was a fun way to rehome unwanted gifts. We'll do it again this year if you want to bring the teddy bears and rooster!

Anonymous said...

i hate anything in the colors red, orange, pink or yellow. yet people keep giving me sweaters, towels, etc. that are red or pink, etc.!!

i smile and politely say thanks. :)

Working Rachel said...

@Carrie: Yeah, the lotions and body washes, etc., are the worst. My parents asked for a wishlist too, and then appeared to ignore it! I think they got too excited about buying things from Korea...

That's an awesome idea for a party. Let me know if you do it again.

Alex said...

As I get older extra stuff really bugs me. No need to apologize for Scrooginess

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