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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
On the Matter of Gifts
One thing holidays do is divide between people who love gift cards and people who hate them.

The rule is simple: when giving a gift, think of the recipient. If the person loves gift cards, then give that. You can 'customize' it by picking a favorite store; there are cards for department stores, book stores, clothing stores, most stores these days. If the person dislikes gift cards, give something else instead.

The same applies to handmade gifts: some people love homemade goodies, while others hate them. Give what the recipient likes; avoid what they don't.

And while we're on the topic, not everyone says "I love you" the same way. Here's an introduction to five popular love languages: words, service, gifts, time, touch. If you and your family share the same language(s) then great. If not, the most loving thing you can do is learn how to express love the way other people receive it.  They will be happy, and also if they notice how much work you're putting into it, they'll probably be impressed.  This means that not all people focus on the gift-giving part of the holidays.  A word-oriented person might prefer a long chatty letter or conversation about your year, a service-oriented person might favor being pampered, a time-oriented person generally likes doing things together, and a touch-oriented person might love snuggling by a fire.  You get the drift.

Picking on people what they like is obnoxious. Don't be a dick. Especially, don't be a dick over the holidays.

Happy Chrismahanakwanzikah to you. I'm posting this note ahead of Thanksgiving because the shopping season has sprawled out this early so yes, really, this advice is already needed. Not to mention arguments over who pays for the turkey supplies and how. Ah well. Try not to kill each other.

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5 comments or Leave a comment
From: rhodielady_47 Date: November 26th, 2015 05:15 am (UTC) (Link)
"Try not to kill each other."
Excellent advice.
Here's another piece of good advice:
If you know your family and your relationship with them is toxic but you still insist on spending time with them over the holidays then do the smart thing:
Limit your time with them.
If you and your family only seem capable of about 30 minutes to an hour's worth of well-behaved together time then make a point of leaving at the end of 30 minutes or an hour.
If being well-behaved all in one place is impossible, then see them separately or in small groups. If one or more of these small groups manage to behave themselves well, treat them to another short visit.
Learn the gentle art of verbal self-defense and then use it.
If all else fails, become a long-distance orphan who sends the once a year letter.
This is YOUR life you know. There's no use being around people who depress you or make you hate yourself even if they are family.
After all, there's always the chance the nurses accidently swapped you for another baby!

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 26th, 2015 05:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Well ...

It is your life, to the extent that you are free to make your own decisions. Some people are lucky enough to get away from their abusive or otherwise undesirable relatives. Some do not have the option of avoiding them, or leaving early, and it's a matter of gritting your teeth and trying not to make a fucking miserable situation even worse.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: November 26th, 2015 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well ...

Wish me luck--I also get to be the cook today!
(Gritted teeth)
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: November 26th, 2015 03:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I actually, given the option, try to dissuade people from giving me gifts at all, unless they are REALLY sure I want them. In our family, gift-giving was kind of compulsory, and I feel better not doing that.

That said, my friends have given me awesome little gifts before: sketchbooks are always good for me, and a fellow trans queer multi gave us a big ass anthology of queer comics that I NEVER would've coughed up for on my own.

We certainly wouldn't say no to an art supplies gift card, but Sneak might disappear into the shop and never be seen again.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 26th, 2015 08:49 pm (UTC) (Link)


These are good things for your friends to know!

I have known artist friends to keep wishlists of art supplies, including the big stuff they can't afford on their own. One year I gave someone the biggest pad of watercolor paper I could afford -- which was several sizes larger than their standard -- and could just about hear the squeeing from several states away. :D
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