Showing disrespect at Christmas


It is the Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa season, which means giving stuff to people.  I like this, actually.  I like getting stuff (although it makes me feel all blushy and humble), and (when I’m flush) I like giving things away.



When money’s tight, however – as in the present economy – I try to be frugal.



I am cheap in any case.  Apollonia asked how much I give my newspaper guy for Xmas, and guffawed in amusement when I told her.  “That’s not enough,” she said.  “Think of what a miserable job it is.  He’s up hours before you are.  He deserves a little more than that.”



“He’s a newspaper-delivery guy,” I said.  “He’s back in bed by ten a.m.  I only wish I were.”



Naturally there are people who deserve nice gifts.  Candy is a nice gift, as is liquor.  Besides, when it’s someone you know well, you pretty much know what they’d like: you know what they wear and where they shop.  It’s easy.



Now, for those of you who work in offices: how about the people you don’t like?



You know who I mean.



You can’t afford to piss them off – not too much, anyway.  You’d like to give them nothing at all, but you’ve got to give them something



Regifting is always an interesting option.  I often end up with several bottles of wine at Christmastime, and I don’t drink wine, so it gets passed along.  But I generally give this to people I like, whom I know to be drinkers of wine.



So what else is there?



How about a nice box of candy from Ocean State Job Lot, the local odds-and-ends discount store?  It’s imported (possibly from the Ukraine!).  It’s nicely wrapped.  It’s – well, who knows? – a little old.  You pick it up for two bucks, and give it to the person in the office you don’t like.



Outwardly it’s nice.  In reality, it’s a snub.  You know it, and the other person knows it.



Point taken.



From Gertrude Stein’s “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas”:



Hélène [the Stein/Toklas cook] had her opinions, she did not for instance like Matisse. She said a frenchman should not stay unexpectedly to a meal particularly if he asked the servant beforehand what there was for dinner. She said foreigners had a perfect right to do these things but not a frenchman and Matisse had once done it. So when Miss Stein said to her, Monsieur Matisse is staying for dinner this evening, she would say, in that case I will not make an omelette but fry the eggs. It takes the same number of eggs and the same amount of butter but it shows less respect, and he will understand.




Get it, Monsieur Matisse?




About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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