As much as I absolutely love giving gifts, this Christmas my wallet is hurting more than usual. I’m trying to save for the cruise Ian and I are taking in March, plus I desperately want a new cell phone. Currently, I have the Samsung Fascinate, and it
is a hunk of junk doesn’t work. Nevertheless, I was on the hunt for cutesy, inexpensive (read: not pricey, but not cheaply made) gifts for my grad school girls. Three ladies dear to my heart tolerated my Project Nazi shenanigans with admirable patience and grace this semester, and we were very successful in our work. We generally don’t exchange holiday gifts because we’re all in similar financial boats, but this year I felt they deserved a little something for their high A.K. tolerance levels. If I’d been them working with me, I’d have needed a bottle of vodka at every project meeting just to get me through myriad questions and “what ifs” and nit-picking.
Insert Christmas Tree Shops here.
I’m pretty sure my mother has achieved VIP status at one Richmond location. When she walks through the door, the employees must all chorus, “Hey, Ruth!” and greet her with a mug of hot tea and her usual shopping cart. Well, she introduced me to this nifty store a few months ago during one of our mother-daughter errand-running sprees. Despite its holiday-themed name, Christmas Tree Shops — plural, for reasons beyond me — is a chain of stores full of home decor and crafting supplies, plus neat little doodads. Over my Thanksgiving break, I ran across the most adorable wine glasses I just had to have for my grad school buds:
We’re all winos (duh), plus there were even blonde and brunette glasses with different sayings! I picked up a glass for each of them, plus a couple bags of mixed-flavor hard candies to stuff in the glasses:
I seriously underestimated the height of the wine glasses, so my friends received upright wine glasses filled with candy in upside-down gift bags… or upside-down wine glasses in rightside-up gift bags… or something. Anyway, I scored all of this loot for about $13, and the girls “oohed” and “ahhed” and squealed when I gave them their thanks-for-still-being-my-friend-after-a-nightmarish-semester gifts last night before class. (Score one for CTS!)
I can still recall the awkwardness of middle school, when many of the girls exchanged gifts at Christmas time. On more than one occasion — because I was clearly the Regina George of Midlothian Middle School (ha!) — someone popped up with a gift for me, when I had not planned a gift for her. That meant scrambling to find something for her and pretending that she’d been on my list all along.
Maybe not everyone agrees with me, but I’m of the mentality at this point in my life that girlfriends can openly discuss with one another whether or not they’re going to exchange gifts. Then, if someone surprises me with a gift, I will of course thank her profusely for it, but not feel obligated to return the favor. After all, there’s no sense in needless spending just to ensure that every female acquaintance in my class feels warm and fuzzy. This ain’t Kindergarten, where everyone gets a generic Star Wars or Strawberry Shortcake Valentine… this is grad school, and I’m broke, people. “Ms. Manners” or Martha Stewart might slap my wrist for such sentiments, but without being a total Scrooge or breaking the bank to please every soul, this is how I celebrate with friends. Just sayin’ 😉
Question for you: How do you feel about gift-giving with coworkers or acquaintances (I’m not talking close, intimate friendships here) around the holidays?