My husband’s birthday is in a few weeks. It is customary in our family to ask the person what they would like. Of course, there is no guarantee the person will get it. Particularly if I have no clue what they are asking for. Thus, this year my husband has given me item name, item description, company name and stock number. If he’d just go on line and enter the credit card information, I’d be all done.
I really enjoy shopping for other people. I think it’s fun to try to find things that fit their personality but are somewhat unique. My dad was always a problem. Not because he had no interests, but because if he saw something he wanted, he’d go ahead and buy it. (We were sure Amazon had a moment of silence when he died.) So we’d get to Christmas and his birthday (two weeks apart) and there’d be nothing that he wanted.
Then he started “saving” gift ideas for me. Sometimes he went as far as to buy the stuff and give it to me to wrap. Totally unacceptable. Fortunately, he loved to read. So I’d spend a lot of time in bookstores looking for the “perfect” gift. That was more fun before the mega-stores closed down the local shops and Amazon shut down the mega-stores.
Now I buy books for my husband and son. They are both highly literate with a wide variety of interests. So it’s safest for me to buy things that I want to read in case they don’t like it. Just kidding. But it was a lot easier to go to the bookstore on Main Street (yes, we really had one before Border’s and Barnes and Noble moved in) and look through things than to go on Amazon.
Amazon reminds me of Google. If I put in the name of a book, I will get the book I want and anything else with that title. (Shouldn’t there be some rule against having two books with the same name? Maybe that doesn’t count if the author’s been dead for a couple of centuries. More ageism.) If I put in the title with the author, I will get all possible versions of that book including the ones that are out of print and they have no access to. (I guess that’s so I’ll know there’s something I might want that’s not available.)
But the results don’t end with what I’ve requested. One time I was looking for a stuffed hedgehog. After looking at some of the ugliest stuffed animals I’d ever seen, the results went to books and toys. Then to pigs. Then to other animals. I stopped looking after that and went to a store.
I used to browse at the mall. One day I realized that the odds of finding something unique at a mega-mall were not all that great. Particularly after I realized that I was seeing the same thing in a variety of materials and prices at most of the stores. Back to Main Street.
I have an aversion to giving cash (or gift cards) as you may have guessed. In the first place, I’d rather not have the recipient know what value I put on their event (wedding, graduation, etc.). Second, in a close group (e.g., family), everyone finds out and expects the same thing. What if I don’t like someone? I could get them something nice at a second mark-down. They’d never know I spent $15 on them while I spent $75 on their sister (who is not marrying the boyfriend who coincidentally just had his divorce finalized a month before the ceremony).
Gift cards are wonderful things if you know the person well enough to know where they like to shop. I have gotten several gift certificates and gift cards over the years to places I never set foot into. Coffee shops (I don’t drink coffee), Wal-Mart (I work at the competition), restaurants (nice place – do you have any idea how much it costs to actually eat there?), fast food (have barely eaten it since I got married – my husband hates it and now it makes me sick). And once again, I usually spend more than I want to because otherwise I feel cheap. I really prefer being cheap, but being stealthy about it.
Back to my husband. He’s been wanting that same stupid thing for over a year now. Wouldn’t be much of a surprise. Hope he likes the alpacas I picked out. They will keep the lawn short and he can sell the wool.