I have a problem with those lists that crop up throughout the year on various topics that dole out opinionated ideas on what you should or shouldn’t do/buy/eat. Each and every one of them is someone’s personal take on something that is couched in terms of universal absolutes. And that irks me. A lot. Come on people; stop sending these lists as though one person’s opinion could ever possibly represent the thoughts of every person on the planet! Just like not everyone in the world thinks that only thin white girls that look pre-pubescent are the hottest thing to represent the world of “female”; not everyone is going to agree with your list of common gifts to avoid giving or your ideas on what to cut out of budgets to save the most money.
The article that prompted this mini-rant details Common Gifts you should Never Ever Give Anyone. Ever. But especially at the Holidays!
I’ll spare you the entire list given so you can read it yourself if you wanted to. I just want to point out a couple that I disagree with most strongly since it is just one more little way to show that not EVERYONE believes the same thing so really the only UNIVERSAL advice you could give that would be a benefit across the board, specifically here for gift giving, is “KNOW the person”. And even then it is possible that you could end up thinking of something great that your friend or co-worker or whoever just doesn’t like. It happens.
Anyways, the first “common gift” to never give that I really disagree with:
3. A gym membership
I don’t have to explain this to you, do I? By giving the gift of exercise you are saying to your loved one, “You’re fat.” or at least, “You’re out of shape and you need to change.”
Bummer! No one want to hear that on a day off, much less on a festive day when they’re ostensibly about to devour a huge meal. Don’t give gym memberships (except if you are specifically asked and even then, I’d wait for pleading).
Okay. Here’s the problem. Gym memberships are usually wicked expensive. If you know someone who already GOES to one or is waxing poetically about a class they wish they could take at one; GET them the membership or gift card! Put a note that you recalled them talking about it and thought they’d love it. I’d totally love a month’s gift-card for my current membership or a card to get into one of the yoga classes coming up. Someone else might not. You need to know people.
Not EVERYONE is going to automatically assume you’re calling them fat for getting them a thoughtful but exercise-themed gift; even if it happens to be a *gasp* gym membership. The fact that “you’re fat” and “you’re out of shape and need to change” are the only two conclusions that this author could draw from anyone giving this gift just goes to show that we really need to change the discourse about weight. First off, “You’re fat” isn’t a negative. It is a simple descriptor like “you’re white” or “you’re short” or “you have long fingers”. We need to stop putting negative values to neutral phrases; that would help a lot with this.
Besides, getting or giving any form of exercise does NOT somehow make a person not fat. We’ve seen it over and over; fat people are not inherently lazy. Some of us work out. Some don’t. Just like thinner folk. So take this advice with a salt-lick sized grain of salt and assess the actual desires of the person you’re considering buying a gym membership for (or a workout DVD or a thigh-master, whatever). People are all different. Some would LOVE this gift; others might cry but the key here is to KNOW the person you’re giving it to.
Unrelated to weight is one other gift no-no that made me shake my head:
6. A stuffed animal to anyone over the age of 8
Because it’s cheesy and infantilizing and weird. Because grown-ups shouldn’t own stuffed animal collections. Because also, from a man to a lady, it’s usually a pretty lazy gift.
Okay. If you put no thought into it and bought a crummy little bear for someone who has obviously never liked and never owned a stuffed critter then yes, you have been lazy. It goes back to the same thing I pointed out above; the key here is to KNOW the person you’re giving it to. That said, some of us over 8 LOVE stuffed animals! I absolutely LOVE seeing the furry little head of a stuffed animal poking out of the top of my stocking on Christmas morning! I go to build-a-bear and love to see a new WWF critter available to build! Again, I would LOVE a stuffed animal. Anyone who knows me well enough to realize this gets bonus points. For someone else? Maybe not so much.
It all comes down to knowing and acknowledging that we are ALL different. We all like different things. Our bodies and minds all work differently. Stop taking these lists of “Common Ideas” as the universally accepted truths that their authors try to push them off as. Think about anyone that you’re considering buying or making a gift for, for whatever occasion, and go from there. We are all different. One size DOES NOT FIT ALL; be it clothing or ideas/beliefs or simply gifts for the holidays. Stop trying to force the entire world into easily definable sets of all-encompassing “do”s and “don’t”s lists.
And just because I’m totally thinking about fuzzy fluffy critters now that I have been pondering stuffed animal toys; here’s a pic of me from this summer holding what has to be the softest little black rabbit I’ve ever had the wonderful pleasure of holding!