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Last Updated: December 27, 2018

Wizard Of Odds Weekly Update December 27, 2018


For the newsletter this week, please forgive me if I rant about Christmas. Before getting started, this is focused on how the holiday is celebrated in the U.S. I've been to other countries near Christmas, namely Mexico, Aruba, Australia, and New Zealand, and think those places keep the day at about the right temperature.

What I have against how the day is celebrated, I would say ruined, in the U.S. is the shopping hysteria. You see it in every shopping center leading up to it, everybody in a stressed frenzy, looking to cross people off their shopping list. So we all buy things the recipient either already has, doesn't want, or doesn't fit. Don't get me wrong, some Christmas gifts do hit the spot, but they are the exception, not the rule. As I write this, on December 26, there will be lines all over America for people returning unwanted gifts.

Some might say that gift cards are a solution to the problem of the giver picking the wrong gift. Those present a whole different set of dilemmas. According to Wikipedia, an estimated 10% of gift cards go unredeemed. I personally have about 20 that aren't worth enough to go out of my way to redeem and when I do actually go to the store where it's from, I don't remember I have a gift card from them. There is also the problem of gift cards expiring or a percentage of value being deducted every so often, as a penalty for not using it. Yet another issue is sometimes the cards simply can't be read after a while. This happened to me with a $300 gift card to Adidas, which was rejected as unreadable at the outlet store here in Vegas. I tried to explain the problem to their customer support line, card number in hand, but I got bounced around their automated system for an hour, before I finally gave up, having never spoken to a human being. Finally, I think the card itself is making a statement that you don't care enough to actually pick a gift yourself. If you are in that situation, I suggest giving a gift card that can be used anywhere that accepts money and will never expire or be depreciated -- cash!

I'd like to make a radical suggestion that we make gift giving to adults for Christmas truly optional. Let me make it loud and clear to the world that you can assume that for me. Fortunately, most of us can just buy anything we want that is within a price range that gifts generally fall in. If you see something you think the recipient would truly like and wouldn't otherwise know about, go ahead. However, getting gifts just for the sake of going along with the heard of sheep buying gifts that will mostly go unwanted is simply wasteful of time and resources.

Thank you for listening.