My darling mother has been giving me Betty Boop-themed gifts since I was a pre-teen, and I’ve never had the heart to tell her – I don’t like Betty Boop. I never have. In fact, the first Betty Boop gift she ever got me was a mindless mistake.
When I was about 14, my mother purchased adorable Disney princess beach towels for my sisters and me, based on the Disney princess we liked. My older sister got a Princess Jasmine beach towel; my younger sister got a Mulan towel, because that was her favorite. I got a Betty Boop towel. (She’s not even a Disney princess.) When my mother handed it to me, she simply said, “Well you like to be sexy, so…”
Let me point out three things. 1: Betty Boop was sexy in the 40’s, around the time my mother was born. That was a long time ago. 2: A 14 year old girl with no breasts or hips who still secretly plays with dolls is not “trying to be sexy,” just because she wants to join the 21st century and wear a denim skirt above her knees. 3: My favorite Disney princess is, was and always will be Sleeping Beauty, because she lived in a castle, got to nap while she waited for her prince, and said prince knew how to Waltz. I know how to Waltz. I learned how by watching Sleeping Beauty, among other ways.
Because I never told Mother the truth, I’ve been receiving Betty Boop-themed gifts I don’t like, want or need for years. This leads me to share that I’ve had several friends tell me in the past few days how unhappy they were with their holiday gifts. Not because the gifts weren’t expensive enough, but because they were neither age appropriate nor purchased with the recipient in mind… much like that Betty Boop towel.
One friend told me that she received a Christmas stocking from her parents containing (among other things) a toy car piggy bank with NYC printed on the side (she lives in NYC by the way), and underwear. Nevermind that this friend is 32, married, and with child. She says she’s pretty sure that her father walks into a gift shop, eyes closed, grabs whatever he touches and wraps it up. Another friend told me that she received several bejeweled/name labeled gifts for Christmas. Please note that I said name labeled, not monogrammed (I love monograms), as in your full first name, 6th grade camp style. She’s 36, and also married.
I bring these things up because the consensus today was that receiving mindlessly gifted objects actually makes a lot of people mad. It makes them mad because others could benefit from the money wasted on unusable gifts purchased in haste. (I’ll be honest – I’ve been guilty of it on occasion.) There seems to be a growing percentage of people who would rather see a donation in their name to a cause they love (animal rescue, food for the hungry, etc) than a gift they’ll never use. If your sister, brother, mother, father, or any other relative asked for a small donation (of any amount) to a charity of their choice in lieu of a holiday gift, would you be offended? Or would you give the $25 you’d planned on buying underwear with to the cause of their choosing?