CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Comedian Ron White does this bit about jewelry store ads that say things like, "Diamonds are forever" and "Diamonds. Render her speechless." Says White: "Why don't they just go ahead and say what they mean? 'Diamonds: That'll shut 'er up.'"
I think about that every time I hear one of the campaigns for giving gift cards this Christmas. The ads give many reasons for buying gift cards.
Give the gift of convenience.
Never worry about buying the wrong gift again.
Give the gift where one size really does fit all.
What I hear those ads saying is, "Gift cards. That'll shut 'em up."
Unfortunately, gift cards might also keep them from enjoying the bizarre gifts that help make holidays memorable, and recalling them part of a family's lore.
Growing up, the presents my Aunt Wilma sent from California were the ones we always wanted to open first. Sometimes she'd send one big box containing a bunch of random gifts for all of us, including the dogs. There'd be marionettes and hand-tooled leather purses bought in Tijuana, Mexico; marzipan candy from a Germantown village; fabulous junk from a Pick 'n Save store. Even though she was thousands of miles away, she had an uncanny instinct for what we'd like.
As we got older, Aunt Wilma's presents matured, too. One year she gave every female in the family a real feather boa. Not the flimsy, feathery string-type boas, but full out, Las Vegas showgirl-style boas. Give a bunch of Polish women feather boas, and you're guaranteed to have a holiday to remember.
If Wilma had been a fan of gift cards, Christmas would have been much less interesting.