How To Handle Horrible Holiday Gifts

In the 1900’s, teens invented sarcasm as a coping method to deal with the utter uncoolness of adults. With it, teens were able to express their criticism of all uncool things* right in front of the adults’ faces. Sadly, after about 60 years, adults learned to recognize sarcasm.

*which includes everything save certain other teens, the word “cool,” and this blog.

As the holiday season begins, teens have to mentally prepare themselves for the difficult experience of receiving gifts. Now, you might consider receiving presents a largely positive experience, and not a difficult one. You might be thinking that that last statement is more wrong than the fact that gum now costs 400,000% what it did in the 1900’s. But, let me ask you this: what do you do if you get a gift you don’t want?

What Not To Do

It’s the first night of (political correctness ahead) your winter holiday of choice. You’ve gathered with your immediate family (sitting on the sofa), extended family (gathered in various places about the room), and hyper-extended family (sporting a lively medley of various appendages in slings). You open the gift from your great-aunt Marge, which is short for Margarettalonacia, and it’s…unspeakably awful.

The “I Love It” Response

You: Gee, Aunt Marge, I don’t know what to say. [You begin to feel nauseous.]

Aunt Marge [Played by Professor Umbridge]: I knew you would love it.

You: Hold on one second. I want to run to the bathroom to wash my hands before I open it; I’d hate to dirty it. [You run to the bathroom, and turn on the faucet full blast. The rest of your family can hear what sounds like vomiting over the noise of the water]. Sorry about that. Anyways, thanks so much for the crocheted wool tube socks that come up to my thighs. How did you know that I love socks like that? Plus, you covered the socks with a pattern of various math equations! My favorite.

Aunt Marge: Oh, it was nothing, just a little intuition. Okay, well, actually, I asked my friend, an 80-year-old kindergarten teacher, what gifts are good for teens, and she suggested this gift.

You: Wow. I really appreciate it.

Here’s what’s wrong with this response. Sure, you didn’t anger your aunt, but let’s face it: you just expressed love for socks so ugly even Justin Bieber wouldn’t wear them to a meeting with the Prime Minister of Canada. Next year, your aunt will have mentioned to all her friends that you just adored the socks, and you’ll receive 18 more pairs of socks from her clueless friends.

Since you “love” them so much, you’ll be required to wear them whenever your aunt visits, and, since your aunt visits you at times of family gathering, you will become the laughing stock of your cousins. You’ll receive nicknames such as “poodle,” “leg-sweater man,” and “furry thighs.” Eventually, your self-esteem will be so decimated that you become incredibly shy, to the point where even photographs of other people make you anxious. To solve this, you spend the rest of your life in a metal filing cabinet. Needless to say, your life is ruined.

The Sarcastic Response

You: Aunt Marge, I don’t know what to say. [You begin to feel nauseous.]

Aunt Marge: I knew you would love it.

You: BLAAAAARGH! Sorry about that. I throw up when I get super-excited. I’m sure we can clean that Oriental rug. Anyways, thank you so very much for this autographed copy of “Quantum Physics in Relation to Extended Metaphors Present in Shakespeare.” I can’t wait to read it!

Aunt Marge: Are you being sarcastic, young man?! I can tell you secretly loathe my present. You know what? I didn’t have to get you anything, but I did. The least you can do is be thankful!

You [Dripping sarcasm, hoping Aunt Marge won’t notice]: I am. I sincerely love relating quantum physics to plays written before my great-great-great grandpa was born.

Aunt Marge: You lying boy! I am personally insulted.

After your aunt leaves, she tells all of her friends how ungrateful you are. Rather than being clueless, however, in this scenario your aunt has befriended the deans of all 4,000 colleges in America.

When you apply for college the next year, all systematically reject you. You end up attending a community college in Azerbaijan run by goat herders. Needless to say, your life is ruined.

The Honest Response

You: Aunt Marge, I don’t know what to say. [You begin to feel nauseous.]

Aunt Marge: I knew you would love it.

You: No, actually, Aunt Marge, I’m speechless because I am repulsed by your gift. I don’t have the time nor want to watch this 67 DVD box set of “The Most Boring Shows of the 1960s.” I think that you must have awful taste, although I thank you for the thought. BLLAAAAARRGH! Wow, this gift was so awful that I actually threw up. I haven’t thrown up since 6th grade.

Aunt Marge: You ungrateful boy! What’s wrong with this wonderful gift? Do you know how much it cost? It was in the 4 digits! All wasted! I will never speak to you again!

As fate would have it, the next week your aunt wins the MegaLottoPowerBasket-ball, winning a 90% stock share in Google, Apple, and China (the country). Every single other person in your family becomes a billionaire due to the generosity of your aunt.

You don’t get rich, of course. And, to express her dislike of you your great aunt pays everyone you ever come in contact with $5 each time they say “You ungrateful boy!” Eventually, the strain gets to be too much, and you move to Tajikistan, where people still shout at you “You ungrateful boy,” although it’s no longer in a language you understand. Needless to say, your life is ruined.

What To Do

Now that you’ve wised up to the folly of the above methods, you’re probably wondering what to do when you inevitably receive a gift you don’t like. Sadly, taking a sudden vow of silence for religious reasons is not the answer. If it was that easy, the entire teen population would remain silent for all of January.

Choose Your Words Wisely

You: Aunt Marge, I don’t know what to say. [You begin to feel nauseous.]

Aunt Marge: I knew you would love it.

You: BLAAARGH! Oh no, was there, uh, salt in the food we ate for dinner? [Dad nods affirmatively]. I totally forgot that I developed a salt allergy [Dad is about to interject with disbelief]…an hour ago! Sorry about that. Good thing we didn’t give the cat a bath yet today.

Anyways, Aunt Marge, thanks for this cool fax machine. The nice thing about fax machines is that you only need one, so I’ll never need another. I bet I can learn a lot by putting it together. I can’t wait to send a fax to my friends; they’ll think this is a riot [which is true, although for different reasons then you imply]. You know what would be awesome? If next year I got an Amazon gift card so I could spend some time picking out stationary I’d like to use for faxing.

Aunt Marge: You’re welcome. I’m so glad you like it. In fact, since we have such similar tastes, why don’t you take this solid gold bar I found in the gutter on the way here. I’m sure you’ll use it wisely.

Condemn a Family Member

You: Aunt Marge, I don’t know what to say. [You begin to feel nauseous.]

Aunt Marge: I knew you would love it.

You: Um, it looks like it was made in…[squinting]…China. Oh darn, that’s terrible. BLAAAARGH! As you can see, I get nauseous around things made in China. I can only wear clothes made in Vietnam or Honduras, which severely limits my fashion choices to only 50% of the entire clothes industry.

I know, however, that Cousin Tommy has always wanted a deck of cards made of whole red bricks, so I am going to demonstrate the trait of generosity, which I’ve learned by spending time with you, and give them to him. I know he will appreciate it.

Aunt Marge: Oh, that’s so kind. But I don’t want you to not have a gift. You know what? Take my new car. I think it was made in Europe, not China; it’s called a Rolls-Royce.

Be a Humanitarian

You: Aunt Marge, I don’t know what to say. [You begin to feel nauseous.]

Aunt Marge: I knew you would love it.

You: You know, I was just thinking. I love this VHS copy of “Rocks: The Journey from the Volcano to Beach Sand,” and I’m sure it’s a great movie, but I when I think about all of those poor dogs at the Humane Society, lonely and all, it just makes me sad. I’m going to donate your gift to the Humane Society so that the dogs will have something to watch and be, uh, entertained.

Aunt Marge: That’s so wonderful. If you ever need a place to stay when you are traveling in New York, feel free to stop by my penthouse.

It’s astounding how greatly the outcomes of your family interactions can differ based on how you handle getting unwanted gifts. If these methods could be applied to getting unwanted grades in school, then our lives would be totally complete, but as it is, I’m sure you’ll find this guide comes in handy when you least expect. Myself, well, I’m going to go buy a copy of “Molecular Microeconomics: For Dummies” so I can cross my great-aunt off of my holiday shopping list.

If you’re not even thinking about the Holidays yet, since we haven’t reached Winter Break, then perhaps you’re more concerned with your daily operation as a homework machine. In that case, you’ll find “Printers: Enemies of All but One,” published this time last year, pretty interesting.

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  1. I haven’t commented in forever, but I still read your blog everyday. I’m just gonna take a shot here at your age – sixteen? I don’t know. You probably won’t tell me if I’m right either, but I feel like you’re either sixteen or seventeen. Anyways, awesome blog. And I’m glad you still keep up with it. It’s probably the only cool website not blocked on my school laptop. :)

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