Holiday gift giving just isnt what it used to be. Mostly because they have our cash hijacked once we spend it… Even if it is a gift!

itunes gift card

itunes gift card (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

 

I was having a conversation tonight with a couple of friends about gifts and gift cards as well as exchanges and returns.  After about 5 minutes of discussing the gift card industry and things associated with it (Specifically a gift card i received for christmas early this year.  This was a gift card that came with a gift receipt.)   We started to realize that there was Zero, 0, Zilch. Non, Nada reason for one to be included with the card.

Then we started to realize that with the implementation of Gift Receipts, even if paid for with cash, one can ever only get store credit or an exchange.  With the gift receipt we can never prove that cash was spent on the item because they so graciously leave off form of payment so they can force you to contain the money within their company or store.

Once a gift card is purchased, the money has to go to the store.  You can not change your mind and get any kind of refund anymore.  People used to pay with checks and if you wanted to return something, and you paid by check, they would return to you cash.  Since checks are practically antiquated, the only way to get your money back is to have the original receipt and within that first 7 days, you can free your money in what ever form that you chose to pay with.

Then we started to think about how many BILLION$ and BILLION$ of dollar$ that are floating out there in our wallets, our pockets, the dumpster, the sidewalk, the cushions of the couch etc.  with a small remainder of credit on that very gift card that will NEVER be used.  Just think about the amount of money that is generated on that odd remainder!  That is technically our money still.  But it is already with the company so they really are making a double double double profit.  Profit from the initial gift card purchase and then the mark ups when spent on the items and then the unspent remainder.  All benefiting the company and the company alone.

I remember years back when we didnt like something that we got, we could go back with the tags in place within the seven days and we could get some money.  Nordstrom did this for MANY MANY years to many returners (and scammers) appreciation.

Now i think about how much money is going one way never to be able to come back if it is something we dont want these days.

Now I  can definitely see the benefit of these gift card trading (buy and sell) sites as well as places like ebay and amazon to be able to resell your brand new perfectly unused unwanted item to retrieve some cash said item.

All in all, they are fleecing us dry by the looks of it in a lot of ways, that are less obvious than higher interest rates and inflation.  There are the fees and the 1 way money flow… out of our pockets & into theirs.  It is pretty scandalous and we dont even see it or realize it happening or at least the bigger impact of what these policies truly mean for them stealing our money.

So on this year of gift giving… Do your loved ones a favor… Just give them CASH for godsake!  It is a different time than it used to be.  It is no longer seen as lazy or tacky to give cash.  It is only what we work our whole lives for!  Cash=freedom so you are actually giving them the feeling of freedom when cash is given!

People are not judged by how much they spend, but on what they spend. Give your loved one the right to chose where that hard earned money should be spent.  That way, A. the change stays with them and B. they will have a receipt showing that they paid cash incase they change their mind when they get home.  The bottom line is you are at least giving the windfall to the one you are giving to and not some financial corporation for them to take over the free world with!

Plus.. Cash is pretty!

Its Holiday Season again… Does it make you warm and mushy or give you the icky feelings of dread?

 

 

Xmas Tree

Xmas Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is also not a time in my life that i can falter at all.  This is what all that hard work and preparedness was getting me ready for.  The massive travel back and forth week at a time to get to my dads with bittersweet feelings…  thankful that i CAN be there,  that i have the time and that he is not all the way across or out of the country.  I remember when my dad was in this mode with his aunt (like a mom).  He had to drive up at least every other day from the south bay to San francisco to see her.  Even thought my parents were separated, we (or just my brother and i or just me)  would go up every or every other week.  It was exhausting.  It was stressful.  It was emotional.  It was wonderful to have been given that last bit of extra time!

 

When her time finally came, the feeling was different than i thought it would be for me.  I dont know about how my dad felt, but I had felt this really big empty spot.  A lot more empty and lonely than i would have thought in sort of a different way than i had thought.

 

We had this 2 bdrm apt. to completely go through, get appraisers out, call insurances etc as well as meeting with the lawyers and accountants.  I kept feeling like one did when they were at camp for a week and it is finally time to go home.  You are the last one to be picked up and the place feels SO empty to you.  You feel more alone in that several hours  than i think we feel most of our lives.  Leaving camp was ALWAYS a tough thing for me.  Kind of like leaving my little cat Arthur when i have to leave every time now.  Separation anxiety!  Panic.  Pure panic.

 

This year with the holidays here, its needless to say that they were very important to me.   That since my dad’s real failing health this last month i really just wanted to be with family.  It is probably going to be the last year that my whole family will be here on earth so (aside from the potential apocalypse) this year holdays are especially poignant to me and somewhat surreal.

 

I know (as i have done many many times) that this will be one of those times that i will remember when looking back form the future.  I can see history happening right before my own eyes can see it.  I can sense it.   I can feel the page starting to turn and the chapter is about to change.  I think it is one of those things that mark a major growth and changing of eras.

 

Usually music, which may have not been integrated into my life hardly at all over the last so many months, now comes on full time (not even any news or chanel 9!  No tv!  I would rather use the Roku box to play Pandora than watch tv.  And just a couple months ago, tv was my way of relaxing at the end of the day.  Now i just cant stay focused on just one thing for that much time. Music you can hear while typing or packing or eating or drying ones hair.

 

Not only that, but a whole new grouping of music is starting to mark this period of time like a big memory timestamp.  They (the songs) (wether i want them to or not!) are becoming the soundtrack for this new period of time.

 

The things i do and the way i feel and the things i see right now are going into a more permanent place in my brain banks because it is so filled with upcoming change and surrounded by such thick emotion.  I can feel myself change.  I know that pretty soon, i will never be the person i used to be.

 

For all of you “grown ups” out there, you are probably thinking to yourself… “that is called growing up”…. I know this, it still feels just a bit strange when you feel it starting to happen but you are still the same person.  It is like the forces of change are moving into your soul to make that change in accordance.

 

Some of these changes include the obvious ones like my dad and his delicate health scenario as well as all of the travel associated with it.  There is also some cracks within my family that have been revealed recently that could be game changers for the closeness we have (possibly falsely) believed we had.  It will be interesting thing to see what happens.  It may be one of those times a child must define themselves as a full grown adult to others around them even if they will always be younger or the child or whatever.  At 38, one is a full grown adult and i believe old enough for others to be able to have decided wether or not they are a quality and competent as a person or not.  The role of the parent or older sibling is the job with all of the power and control who usually desperately tries to hold onto that same level of power and control even with fully grown kids/sisters or brothers.  Who would want to give up something they have taken a lifetime building?

 

But everyone deserves to feel like a grown up when they are deeply into their grown ups!  If they do not, it is simply because either A. the family has enabled them or B. because the family undermines their self esteem making them question themselves throughout their whole lives.  If the people that raised you dont believe in you and you have a lot of respect for them, then it usually ends up not so well for the child.  That undermining self-esteem can sit in the back of your head haunting all of your wishes in life.  It is hard.  Even when you believe in you, when the ones you love do not, it is a heavy blow that never seems to be able to be shaken off the back.

 

Self esteem can make or break a perfectly great person.  And usually it is the soul crushing that comes from within the family or those that we look up to.  They have a lot of lasting damaging power over us that they often like to turn back around and blame back on us.

 

These are some of the things that happen to adjust the power structure when children become adults.  The adults sometimes forget that they only get so long to do their raising and then, it is time to stand back and see if they were a good teacher or not.  If they (the child) starts making poor choices, you as a parent do not get the option to jump back in and continue to raise them some more.  If the child fails at making good decisions, that could possibly mean that YOU failed as a parent in your raising.  That is your own work that you are seeing them using to survive.  Most of the time though, the family only sees a part of what the whole story is.  They have no idea how we are to really use our time and solve problems and set goals.  Jeez… they dont even usually bother to ask us if we even have any goals or plans to improve our futures.  Do they just assume that we just sit around whining and picking our noses?

 

I just know that the holidays are wonderful and yet so stressful and can be so depressing at the same time.  They are wonderful if you have a great loving family or family of friends to surround yourself with, but can be easily as equally depressing if you do not have anyone, just lost someone or are not getting along well with the people you care about at the time.

 

For you all, i truly hope that you have a low stress winter holiday season and are surrounded by the love that every human being deserves.  I hope you take the time to appreciate that this moment is here… because it WILL change.  That is guaranteed.  The thing is that we just dont expect to change soon.  What i have found is that change can happen in the blink of an eye.  So now is the time to live in the moment and appreciate that the hands of change have not moved any of the ones you love out of your lives yet.  Enjoy each other.  After all, we may not even make it to Christmas if the end of the world comes on Dec 21, 2012!

 

 

 

:)