Gift guides: who are these people??
Ok, time to get real. …In, like, a very 1st-world-problems capitalist kinda way. Real like a Housewife.
While I am obviously enjoying the virtual window shopping that fills my RSS feed this time of year… gift guides are trash. Admit it. Not because the stuff isn’t nice - it is! I, too, enjoy artisan craftsmanship and indulgent leather goods! I’m not a monster. But I also have 37 people on my list to shop for - DESPITE THE FACT that both my mom’s side and my dad’s side drastically reduce their numbers with Secret Santas and charity giving, etc. - and gift guides are almost universally useless. At best, they are exercise in making a mental list of pretty and highly unnecessary things that I wish someone would buy me. At worst, they are too good and I buy myself a bunch of shit I don’t need right when my extended family is busily also buying me shit I don’t need. I almost never find any ideas from them.
It is rank fallacy, pretending these guides are intended to be generous ideas for others. We are better than this. Let us dispense with the lies and rename them Things to Put On Your Amazon Wishlist That No One Will Buy You Because If It Were Reasonably Priced It Would Already Be En Route To Your House. You are not helping me check off my list, blogosphere, and you know it.
My main beef is the breathtakingly shallow categories of people the internet believes I shop for. Did we all ask Andrew Dice Clay to define our terms back in 2004 and then just… forget to check back in? Bloggers who generally have nuanced and heavily-researched stances on gender politics turn into Peggy Olsen’s mother in late November. Every gift guide ‘For Him’ assumes that the males in your life spend three hours a day shaving, six hours grilling meat with complex spice rubs, and then sample whiskeys until it’s time to start shaving again. The ‘For Her’ guides are a little better, because I think most women I know might enjoy a silly little indulgence that a stranger with nice taste found online, but you simply cannot buy a man a new set of grilling tools every year. Shake. It. Up. Slightly.
Also, the internet believes there are 6 hobbies, total. Gardening, cooking, eating, yoga, grilling, and football. I enjoy a few of these hobbies, as do my loved ones, but aside from the 8 zillion other hobbies that humans get themselves up to, there is a disconnect at work even with the Big Six. Basically, we give people crap with a picture on it of the thing they like doing, instead of helping them do the thing they like doing.
Example: well-meaning family members get me things with cats on them because I have a cat. What I like about her is that she sits on my toes when it’s chilly and her tail occasionally attempts a coup of some kind that has to get stomped out like she’s Pinochet. She’s hilarious and velvety and she’s my buddy. I don’t get much of that pleasure by drinking white wine out of a glass with a cat drawn on it by (one presumes) the graphic designer behind Curlz MT. It’s genuinely sweet of people to think about me and the things that I enjoy while they’re shopping, but drawings of cats is not actually the thing that I enjoy. I would prefer to drink wine out of a normal glass that I already own while my cat warms my toes. None of those help your shopping for me, I know, but the cat glasses aren’t actually all that thoughtful if I’m not going to like them. Hell, just buy me wine and say ‘drink it with a cat on your foot!’ Best Christmas ever.
It’s just… when he asks for breakfast, you don’t give my three-year-old a mouse pad with a picture of pancakes on it. Don’t give him a bottle of fancy syrup, either. Close your eyes and conjure up what’s really giving pleasure. Give me a throw blanket that’s made out of some material that attracts your own cat to it like a rare earth magnet, so every time I watch TV I’m guaranteed that Scout will come running to purr on my lap. Give my kid a $2 box of bisquick mix with the promise to come over and make him some pancakes while he ‘helps’ stir. Include a roll of paper towels for his inevitable spills, if you’re upping your game. This involves knowing your recipients rather well, but you’re probably not scouring the internet for ideas for some rando you can cover by slapping a bow onto a bag of Tate’s cookies. Hang up, that’s ALSO a great gift idea. Tate’s are incredible.
I assume this Gift Guide Trash is because people are trying to put together visually pleasing collections, and trying to think about the widest possible range of people. We have gone too wide, people. Bring it in. These fictional recipients are USELESS TO ME and the holidays are breathing down my neck already. I need help. People in my family keep up and making new people in my family, thus adding to my list. It’s all very rude.
In an attempt to be genuinely helpful to someone out there, somewhere, I’m going to put together a few gift guides inspired by actual humans I know. I’m going to include things I’ve given before to favorable reviews, which of course doesn’t check anyone off my own list. I’m doomed. But I will not pretend that you’re going to buy a $500 leather suitcase for your cousin. Seriously, how many people do you know who do not already own a suitcase? None. No one. Everyone you know not only has a suitcase, they have two or three superfluous bags they secretly hate for petty reasons that they bury in a closet, hoping they’ll eventually get crushed in some way that justifies throwing them out. We are a nation drowning in awkwardly-sized roller bags. Just assume that we can all handle our luggage unless otherwise notified.
Damn, I have to give someone this blanket that guaranteed cat cuddles, cause that’s a solid idea. Scout is all over this thing.