Cash, a Rude Request?

Maureen Valdes Marsh

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Office gift exchanges can sometimes be a painful experience.

What happens if you draw the name of that one person in your office that makes your skin crawl? Or worse, what if you make the skin crawl of the person who drew your name?

Gifts are suppose to be from the heart. How can it come from the heart if that person makes your heart shrivel up faster than a vienna sausage that's been left in the sun?

I enjoy the art of gift giving - and it is an art.

Giving the perfect gift requires thought, time and effort. The perfect gift says, ‘I know who you are and I celebrate you. ’

What then happens to the gift-giving-challenged? Better yet, what happens to the receiver of those gifts?

My husband is the worst gift giver. . . ever.

It never fails to amaze me how someone who has lived with you for years on end, can just not get it. (We just began our 10th year of marital bliss. )

I have come to dread special occasions. My last birthday was the worst.

On the morning of my birthday, my husband sat me down on the couch and proudly approached with an arm full of gifts. The previous year's birthday gift had been a big fat nothing. (Husbands take note: never give your wife nothing on her birthday - unless you hate her and intentionally want her to feel totally worthless. ) Seeing him approach with the gifts, I felt a tinge of hope.

With the expectant look of a puppy searching for a new home, my husband sat in front of me and beckoned that I begin opening my gifts.

I picked up the first small package and lightly shook it back and forth. My husband prodded, “Just open it. "

Removing the wrapping revealed a box of staples - the kind for a staple gun that you would use around the house.

“So is this my new staple gun?" I asked, patting a square package sitting on the table. I was excited. I had been wanting one.

My husband got a puzzled look on his face, “Huh? No. "

The opening of the square box produced a small puzzle of white kittens, sitting in a row, on a pink background. It was the perfect gift for a puzzle enthusiast or a 10-year-old girl. Last time I checked, I was neither.

My hopes were fading but I forged ahead and picked up the next one. The slim, flat object turned out to be a package of bicycle reflectors.

Not owning a bike, and following the natural line of progression, I proclaimed, “Wow! You got me a bike??"

“Huh? No. "


This had to be going somewhere. Didn't it?

I continued opening.

An air freshener in the shape of a yellow foot. The kind you hang from your rear view mirror and can buy at any AM PM Mini Mart for a buck fifty.

“That's so you won't get sick when you ride in my car. " (My husband being a smoker who has been regulated to only smoking outside on the deck or in his truck. )

A palm sized book of kitten photos.

“You like kittens, right?"

A box of ant stakes.

“You know, cuz of the ants. " (Very thoughtful, being that it was summer and I had been battling to keep the ants out of the kitchen. )

To his credit, the last gift I opened was The Best of Chris Farley from Saturday Night Live. Ok, I could live with that one.

As I sat there with my assortment of gifts and my state of shock, I couldn't help but wonder just how much this man despised me or if a request for cash would be rude.

When Christmas came, I attempted to install a “no gifts" policy. Emphasizing that it just wasn't in the budget - and truthfully, I couldn't survive ant stakes under the Christmas tree.

But my husband insisted, “It's Christmas. I have to get you something. "

Christmas day arrived and my husband handed me an envelope containing a gift certificate to Borders Books.

I hugged him.

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

Copyright (c) 2005 Maureen Valdes Marsh all rights reserved

Maureen Valdes Marsh is a former newspaper reporter. She currently writes a semi-punctual weekly column on her website called, “Musings of Vintage Grace. " She is the author of the upcoming book for Collectors Press, “Be There or Be Square: Fashion's Flare in the 1970s", set for release Fall ‘06. You can read more of Maureen's writing on her website, Vintage Grace by visiting .


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