It is easy to buy something for someone close to you, with personal interaction you get an idea of what they want by how they react to the world or even through blatant hints from them.
I speak to my mom on the phone once a month or so. I get to say a few words to my brother if he happens to answer the phone when I call mom (he lives with her.) A stray email passes between my sister and I. Approximately once a year Donna and I pop in for a visit ranging from a few hours to a few days. So buying gifts for my family back in Connecticut is difficult, they are practically strangers. In a the 30-odd years since I left the Nutmeg State behind when I joined the Navy, the gift giving process has morphed from traditional to meaningless in a pace slightly faster than geological.
At first we exchanged gifts based on our mutual knowledge, but as the years apart grew, our tastes changed and the gifts given and received no longer were relevant.
Next we graduated to swapping lists. For a short while the generic ones would suffice; v-neck sweater in large or jazz records, but we soon decided that there were still more misses than hits.
The next level was the detailed list. J.C Penny Fall/Winter Catalog, Page 436, Item A, Men’s Mock Turtleneck in Heather, Size Large, etc. We got just what we asked for, but colors, textures and sizes were not always what we expected.
In the never ending quest for the perfect gift, we next ushered in the Gift Card era; Best Buy, Old Navy or B.Dalton Books thank you very much. I really don’t like the idea of trading gift cards in the mail. Suppose my brother said send me a gift card to Lowes and I tell him that I would like a gift card to Lowes too. Shouldn’t we just skip mailing them to each other? Save the time and energy of mailing them to each other. For that matter why even buy the gift card at all. Sometime in December go to the store and buy something you like and thank him for it in his Christmas card, “Love than cordless drill you got me bro’, it was just what I needed!”
The end of the gift card era is coming and I’m not sure that the next step is any better. Last year I gave my sister a gift card for Amazon.com. I bought it online, they mailed me the plastic card, I mailed the card to her and she redeemed it online. Which leads to the 21st century digital gift giving era…online gift certificates. You just cut out that whole messy US Postal Service middleman. Deadline, schmedline, you can get up Christmas morning with mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, log on to the net and email everyone an electronic gift card redeemable for merchandise available at an online store.
Well, I’m not going there, Donna and I are going down to Hilton Head Island this weekend and my mother, brother, sister and her husband are getting gifts with an HHI theme whether they want or like them.
Started up, still up.
Miata Top Transitions since 01/01/05: 376