I am grateful for many things this holiday season and have closets bursting with the excesses of my life. I need nothing, I want nothing, except my family's continued good health and love. But since telling people that doesn't help stimulate the economy or, in general, dissuade them from gift-giving, here's a list of the things I especially really absolutely don't want.
I am a woman of a certain age. I have been known to stand up in a crowded room, fan myself furiously with the nearest newspaper, and announce that I am so hot that I am about to strip naked. The idea of wearing any article of clothing that constricts the air flow to any part of my body is inconceivable.
Turtlenecks are one of the first things to go at the onset of peri-menopause. Flash (pardon the pun) forward a year or so and you've probably figured out you don't even need neck gators anymore to ski Killington Vermont on the coldest day of the year and yet well-meaning people are still giving you turtlenecks.
Turtlenecks are for anemic women who are cold all the time. That would not be me. That would not be most women post50.
Sweaters made of real wool -- any kind of wool, but especially cashmere.
Sweaters are meant for warmth. Menopausal women have bodies that generate more heat than the solar panels on their houses. We could resell surplus heat to the energy company if they'd let us. We don't want anything to make us feel warmer.
I would add to this verboten list: sweater vests, sweater coats and sweaters for our dogs because just looking at a dog in a sweater makes us feel hotter. If I were a Golden Retriever, I'd be begging the groomer for a buzz cut.
Anything I have to take care of.
I have a full-time job, a house, a husband, two kids and two dogs. They all want me for something. They all need me to do things for them. Any gift that requires that I have to take care of it in any way is a bad gift. This includes house plants that need to be watered weekly; sorry, I'm just out of bandwidth.
A good gift does not need me for anything; quite the opposite. A good gift relieves me of a responsibility in some way. I don't want to drive to it, need to take it anywhere, have to clean it or clean up after it, write it, mail it, cook for it or build up its self-esteem. I don't want to dress it, solve its problems or fill out any forms on its behalf.
Something that is suppose to de-stress me because the advertisement says it will.
The only one capable of de-stressing me is me. Not a fancy bubble bath, not a massage, not a pedicure. (OK, maybe a pedicure if it includes a foot rub where nobody asks "Mommy, can I stop now?" after 30 seconds.)
I'm sure there are people in the world who can take a hot bubble bath and step out of the tub feeling more relaxed. How nice for them. For me, stress goes away fastest when I accomplish what I need to accomplish and not a minute before.
Something that's been regifted.
I'm guilty of this myself. Someone gives you something that isn't worth the effort, time and gas to return or exchange. You keep it for awhile and then in one of those desperate moments, rewrap it all pretty like and pass it down the food chain.
Each time I've regifted, I feel badly for doing it. It's the rare regifted item that works for the re-giftee. Someone presumably took the trouble to pick something out for you that you didn't like. They made a mistake, but with good intentions behind it. Now you are giving it away because it's easier than finding something your gift-getter will like. What's missing is the good intentions.
A gift card.
A gift card shows me that you don't know me, don't care enough to try and find something I might like. Gift cards also don't get used -- $2 billion in unused gift cards last year alone -- so you are basically wasting your money while you fulfill what likely feels like a gift-giving obligation the most convenient way you know how. Cash in an envelope may feel less gift-like, but at least it will get used. Gift cards, they are another story.