Mr. Gift Card: Prince or devil-in-disguise?

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Kitchen Table Talk

I have a love/hate relationship with gift cards.

Today, Mr. Gift Card is my Prince Charming, my sweet “Gifty.” He is riding in to save me from my wicked stepfamily (Work) that has kept me from starting my Christmas shopping until it’s almost too late for even Amazon to save me.

Today, Gifty, is my true love, shiny and available. He is dependable and kind. He doesn’t ask me to change, and he doesn’t reprimand me about my bad time management. He asks only the simplest of questions that involve very little thought: Amount? Deliver by mail or email?

Today, my sweetie pie Gifty gives me options if I want them (Nike or Adidas? Movies or Restaurants?) but is always quick to just take the burden away with Visa or Amazon.

Yes, Gifty is the dream, and any shopper should be happy to call him hers.

It all starts to fall apart in the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree. Gifty doesn’t make much of a show under the tree, even if I spring for the little boxes instead of sticking him inside a Christmas card. And, while I don’t have to worry about sizes, neither will I ever know what became of Gifty after the holidays. Was it special for him as he purchased a long-wished for jacket? Or was he just loaded on a balance and used for random purchases?

My love affair with Gifty never lasts, but I do seem to keep coming back to him every year.

Truthfully, if I had all the time in the world, I can’t say I would shop the way I did years ago. I never liked shopping at the mall but I loved boutique shopping and tried very hard to shop local. But it’s different when shopping for grandchildren and other dear young friends today. They all grow up so quickly, and their loves and dislikes change rather rapidly. I can’t keep up with the trends and don’t know what’s in their toybox already. Gift cards let them make the choices, and, while not exciting, it just makes sense.

And there’s Gifty, looking at me with his come-hither smile, reminding me that it’s Dec. 18, and we have travel plans that start in a few days.

So, what will it be? Regal movie cards or Aubrey’s dinners? Or splurge for Dinner and a Movie?

Gifty, you are an evil tempter.

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.

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