Don’t Look a Gift Donkey in the Mouth

 Don’t Look a Gift Donkey in the Mouth

By Sean McVeigh

Every December, I find myself playing a game. It’s a little dance that I do with the people that I am responsible for buying gifts for and vice versa. I am not a very skilled gift giver. Some people have the God given ability (gift, you might say) to know exactly what to buy someone. Year after year, they nail it. These gift giving connoisseurs get exactly what the person they are buying for would love! And on top of that, it always comes across as so thoughtful because they just knew. I do not fall into that category. I most certainly do not “just know.” I fall into a very different category. Each year, I am faced with two conundrums that I must overcome to maintain my good standing as a card-carrying member of the Responsible Adult Club.

The first is that I need people — who are we kidding?  Specifically, my wife — to drop me as many hints as possible about what it is that they “want” or “need” as we approach the holiday season. The latter part of that being extremely important. If you happen to tell me that you could really use something in July, there is a good chance that it will go in one ear and right out the other. This is a time sensitive activity. On top of it all, my wife’s birthday is right before Christmas so there really is only one gift giving season for me. Thanksgiving and on is when my brain is most likely to stumble out of its fog and associate that nudge that you want something with the fact that it would probably make a pretty good gift. You’re going to have to spoon feed it to me.

On the other side of the coin, while I am surfing the web for all these Black Friday and Cyber-Monday deals with the intention of buying stuff for others, it is inevitable that I am going to see some things that tickle my own fancy. The thing about the holiday season is that there are a lot of good deals out there. When this happens — and I say “when” and not “if” — I am faced with a dilemma. Do I buy this thing for myself, or do I go around dropping hints the way I like to have hints dropped? I am a lazy jerk, so I appreciate the hints that get dropped for me. But I could certainly see it being offensive to others. I would basically be telling you to get me something and, oh, by the way, it is 15% off on if you order it in the next three hours.

While I do believe that good gift giving ability is something you are born with, I think you can learn to be better. You’ll never reach expert level — How’d you know I wanted a chocolate covered strawberry making kit?! — but if you rely more on the thoughtfulness side of things you can learn to come out looking like an all-star.

Once again, I crushed it this year. Presents are all bought (they’re not wrapped yet — I’m not a superhero) and I think I’ve pretty subtly dropped a few hints of my own to the necessary parties. I was also good about not buying things for myself. Well, pretty good. Santa is probably going to have a couple of extra gifts for me, unwrapped and dropped off a couple of weeks early, but that is just because we are old pals, and he knows how much I love the sweaters from


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