Sarcastically Southern advice column is written anonymously by a woman in Bulloch County. To submit a question, please e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @SarcasticallyS5, and on Facebook, Sarcastically Southern.
Dear Sarcastically Southern,
With the holidays coming up, I have been struggling to find gifts for family members. They aren’t necessarily hard to buy for, but I am a stickler for giving a thoughtful gift that I’m sure they will treasure or use—I’m talking tear-jerking gifts at times. Even if I resort to a gift card, I want it to be to somewhere that I know they enjoy shopping, not just some random place I happened to pass while shopping!
The struggle I face is that my family gifts in a way that isn’t as thoughtful. I spend time and money on making sure I give good presents and it feels like some of the ones I receive are bought last minute at the dollar store. I know I may sound ungrateful and I honestly don’t mean to… but is it too much to ask that you spend a little longer than 30 seconds thinking about what you’re going to buy someone as a gift?
Sincerely, The Gift Grinch
Dear Gift Grinch,
It’s not too much to ask. And I know that the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can make it difficult for people to find time to shop. While I’m all about shopping local and finding gifts that are unique—there is something to be said for online shopping. If you don’t have time to shop in store, there is NO excuse anymore! Ninety-nine percent of people carry around a smartphone that has the ability to order items online—and you can do that while you’re waiting for an appointment, on your lunch break, or even sitting on the toilet.
I hate to say that you will just have to get over it, but you’d best get glad in the same britches you got mad in. I’m assuming these people are adults since most children don’t buy gifts, and chances are that they are too set in their ways for it to change now. Just keep in mind that there’s always the chance to re-gift, sell online, donate or return/exchange. It’s not the ideal situation, but it’s better than letting it bother you. Another option is to drop hints in a subtle way—show them items that you’ve seen in store that you want, take pictures and send to them with things like “Isn’t this beautiful? I had to tear myself away from buying it!” Or start suggesting stores to them—“I found the cutest little store over by *insert landmark here*! I could go broke shopping there!” At the very least, you’ve dropped a hint, and it’s up to them to pick up on it!
Dear Sarcastically Southern,
I work retail and so the holidays aren’t so warm and fuzzy for me. Thanksgiving means early hours the next day, Christmas season means longer hours, ruder customers and less time to do the things I need to do for myself—relaxing baths, errands, doctor’s appointments, etc. and it definitely makes attending holiday functions hard. How do I make my family (and my in-laws) understand that I am not being rude when I am unable to come to parties, or when I show up late or if I’m unable to bring something to contribute to the potluck?
Sincerely, Retail Restricted
Dear Retail Restricted,
It’s not your responsibility to make them understand. Family is important and should definitely be a priority to everyone… but family doesn’t pay your bills—so if it comes down to it and you’re scheduled to work, then you have to work. Retail workers are busier than most folks during the holiday season because they are having to work, keep up with their usual tasks and also do all their holiday shopping. Those who are 8-5ers don’t understand this, so it can cause some tension.
It’s really going to be all about compromise. You need time to yourself and to get your own errands done, but they want you to be there and contribute. If nothing else, you could always offer to send paper products to family get-togethers in place of a dish. Most of all, remember that your presence is a gift. If you don’t have time to plan out elaborate gifts or wrap them to be picture-perfect, that’s OK. The biggest thing is to make sure your family doesn’t feel as if they are playing second fiddle. Even if you aren’t able to make it for a full get-together, go and stay as long as you can. Drive separately from your husband if you have to, but don’t sacrifice your sanity for anybody.
These are your holidays too… and you should have the opportunity to enjoy them just as much as anyone else!