Gift giving gets complicated

By; Shauna Banks

Stuffed lions, and tigers, and bears — oh my!

Like your mom always told you when you got clothes for gifts as child, it really is the thought that counts when giving and receiving gifts for any holiday.

With Valentine’s Day really not so far off, the question of what to get my other half looms over me like an unpredictable cloud.

He’s not as easy to impress with gifts as I am. Even as an adult, I adore the stuffed bears that say “I love you thissss much” and a nice box of chocolates, or those silly candy hearts that urge the recipient to “be mine.”

Even though I’ve yet to come up with anything to give a 28-year-old man for a holiday that he would rather forget existed, I have come to a different realization: gifts are not always all they’re cracked up to be.

In many instances where I’m expected to buy gifts, it often ends up being more stressful than enjoyable.

Christmas has to be the biggest culprit. What the heck do you really buy for Nana, who already has 25 frames that say “World’s Greatest Grandma,” candles decorating every nook and cranny of her house and enough kitchen gadgets to fill two kitchens? (A Tony Romo T-shirt and Cowboys drawstring bag it turns out. Who knew?)

This past Christmas, my boyfriend and I decided we would limit the amount of money spent on gifts. However, I actually do enjoy getting gifts for people I care about — and with my new found love for couponing, a free or nearly free gift is just that!

The Black Friday bug bit me in the hiney and did not let go for most of that day. Nothing made me more proud than the deal I scored from Best Buy — a $600 laptop for $299! Low and behold, my boo actually needed a laptop, so it was just perfect. Well, so I thought.

It was of course all smiles and crazy levels of excitement upon him opening the laptop on Christmas Day. After all, he was running on a laptop so old, it still worked best when used with a dial up connection. Yikes.

That’s where it all went wrong. Less than a week after it had been pulled from the box, we were struck one morning with the realization that it had a cracked LED screen. Of course I sped like a bat out of hell back to Best Buy, demanding an exchange. But no sirree. No returns accepted on what they deem to be “accidents.” So now, that “Heck yes! Score!” moment, has turned into a $300 ouch.

After shaking my fists and moaning and groaning, I realized it really wasn’t something worth getting that upset over; it was just a simple item.

I really hadn’t lost anything in the grand scheme of things. I still had the love of my life home and safe, my silly dogs yip-yapping around me with their new 97 cent tennis balls and most of my sanity.

So the moral of the story is this: if a gift has you wishing you could pull your hair out, maybe a gift isn’t the best idea.

But on the other hand, some of the simplest gifts that call for the least amount of money and zero stress can bring the biggest smiles and enjoyment (just ask all four of my dogs).

Christmas came and went, and my favorite gift was without a doubt the fancy looking ink pen I got, with silly beagles pictured on the casing. Remembering that I adore our dogs was the true gift in that.

So in the end, even though most people may not truly ever believe it—it really is the thought that counts. And you can take that, to the the bank!