It's the holidays.
And many of you write me, Madrone, tell us what to do about all
these thingamajigs that everyone has to have. Phones take pictures
and our hair dryers are also good for making bread. What's going
on, the world is going crazy. How can we buy something for anyone
when we don't know what the thing is called let alone what it's
good for. Help us we implore you Madrone, take pity on us!! We're
I get it, things
are complicated. No one likes a nice mohair sweater anymore, hand
knit like my Aunt Mickey used to make, or her mother, may she rest,
who could take strips of tin from soup cans and make little shrines
for Our Lady. No, those days are gone, kiss them goodbye and get
a grip on yourself. Here is my guide to holiday gifts. Which if
you follow, it should make things, if not smooth, at least easy
But first, I
don't care what religion you are. No really, I don't. That's your
business, and please, leave me out of it. This is about family.
Get that straight, and we'll all be happier. And please don't write
me about it, I'm just throwing the letter in the garbage. Guarantee.
under five: the gift isn't for the kid, please. It's all
about you sending a message to the parents about where they stand
with you. And expensive can mean love, don't fool yourself with
all that priceless crapola.
between five and twelve: the present is now doing double
duty. Whatever you want to tell the parents and what you want to
tell the kids. One of the messages is , hey kid, I like you the
way you are. For example, little Louie is a baseball nut, so you
get him an el primo bat. A completely different message is you get
little Louie a book about the life of Louie Pasteur.. which would
be saying listen, kid, there's a lot of ways to be a Louie and the
way you're going, you should think twice.
between 12 and 18: There's not much anyone can give these
kids, their happiness depends on things that don't get wrapped easily.
You can't give them a boyfriend or a girlfriend or get rid of their
acne or make sure they have someone to sit with on the bus, or supply
the muscle necessary to get a pain in the neck teacher off their
back. So it really doesn't matter. If their parents raised them
right, they'll smile and hug you whatever. In future years, they
won't remember what you gave them anyhow, just that you did.
an envelope does the best. Cash, check, whatever.
thirty- Your grown kids, your aging parents, siblings and
spouse all can rightfully expect a token of some kind, but you don't
have to knock yourself out. At this point in most people's lives
they appreciate things they don't have to lock up, clean, or display
to be polite. So stay away from the dueling pistols, any articles
of clothing that are dry clean only or an umbrella stand made of
seashells that you picked up when you were on the cruise and you
stopped overnight in Aruba.
So there it
is. God bless, Donna.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where
she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She
pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles.
She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.
Rules of Family Archive