God’s Gift Card or Devil’s Debit? (7310-7311)

Yesterday I felt like I had been hit by a car. It was most likely due to sleeping on the couch during my all-night poop-vigil and doing what Dr. Ken discouraged most, sleeping on too firm of a pillow. The sofa pillow is the worst culprit.

Dramatic reenactment.

Dramatic reenactment.

I got up from almost no sleep at all and could feel the tightness under my left scapula radiate pain up my neck. By breakfast with Lemony it was up in my head and pulsing behind my left eye.

It has been bothering me for weeks and no amount of foam rolling and stretching has helped. I didn’t have time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ken  (and the prospect of driving on these frigid roads did not appeal to me) so I went to a drop-in chiropractor and got my neck adjusted.

I had a partially used gift card that needed to be redeemed so why not?

I met a new doctor who did extensive muscle testing and adjusted me all kinds of new ways, including standing. It wasn’t the usual wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am I’m used to. While pleased, I’d still rather have a full appointment with Ken.

What my doctor looks like.

What my doctor looks like.

Then I followed the adjustment with a massage at Massage Envy because a housemate gave me a gift card years ago. I recall using part of it and that there was still a balance. $27! And it’s been there since 2009! I’m glad it still had value.

I got the Amazon card for being in a focus group. I'm going to use it to buy a book I know Lonny will love before I lose it.

I got the Amazon card for being in a focus group. I’m going to use it to buy a book I know Lonny will love before I lose it.

I have a major beef with gift cards. It’s like throwing money away. I don’t mind getting them because I am vigilant about using them. But so many gift cards are forgotten, lost, never redeemed or the odd amounts left on them are given up on.

You can’t really buy something at Macy’s for $3.07 which means you have to buy something for $15, often something you don’t want or need.

41 billion dollars in gift cards haven’t been redeemed since 2005. 41 BILLION! I’m not contributing to that corporate giveaway, I’m using up all my cards, even if it’s kind of a pain.


And believe me, it can be. I’ve gotten gift cards that won’t let me make more than one transaction a day. I’ve had cards that lose value each month. I’ve had transactions declined because it was for the exact amount left on the card. Then there’s the activation fee, letting a card company essentially earn interest on unused funds, and having your choices of where and when to use your money limited.

Gift cards are how people give useful and flexible presents. This is a lovely and kind gesture, especially for those who want to give something of monetary value. I won’t lie, I’d rather get that (if anything at all) so I can buy groceries or necessities.

My step-mother is the most thoughtful person. She knows we have a Netflix account so she bought us a card that could be redeemed for a few months of service.

It’s a great exception to the gift card rule. That, and grocery cards. Marlo Fisken gave me a GINORMOUS one to Whole Foods to thank me for staying at my house. I can always use groceries.

Thanks, Marlo!

Marlo gave out piggy-back rides with the elevatED certificate.

Marlo gave out piggy-back rides with the elevatED certificate.

But when it’s my turn to give a gift, like one year when I was put in charge of collecting money for a class present for my son’s kindergarten teacher, I gave her an envelope stuffed with cash.

You cannot say that you wouldn't be psyched to get this as a gift, especially if you are an underpaid educator.

You cannot say that you wouldn’t be psyched to get this as a gift, especially if you are an underpaid educator.

Don’t freak out, I also gave her a very thoughtful, signed photo album of all the kids in her class at the end of the year.

I suppose this is considered gauche because it shows lack of thoughtfulness, but that’s an advertising gimmick. If you don’t know exactly what someone wants, what could be better than cash?

Gift cards came about to allay people’s fears that they might be considered thoughtless at holidays, but really?

Some people want to make sure that the recipient gets something special, just for themselves, rather than pedestrian items like groceries, gas or necessities, but maybe groceries are a luxury.

Lots of Groceries

All I want for Christmas is for my son’s tooth to stay in, a nice walk, or a good phone conversation.

Your loved ones might like getting something under the tree, but think long and hard about who will be getting the gift.

Please, please make sure that you aren’t inadvertently giving your present to American Express or a corporate giant that is waiting, hoping for you to lose that little card.

Time to cut the crap.

I already counted these things, so the number is just two, for the gift cards I got rid of. Thank you Julie and Harmy for the cards, I put them to good use.

19 thoughts on “God’s Gift Card or Devil’s Debit? (7310-7311)

  1. The dentist went and stuck KC’s tooth back in the hole it came out of, right? And you guys are still waiting to see if the repair is going to “take” and re-root the tooth? Seems like it must be annoying, limiting &/or uncomfortable for him. I remember though that you said the kid’s a trooper.

    • The tooth has had a root canal and the splint is off. It’s holding and doesn’t bother him. The question is how long will it stay that way? Hopefully until his face is done growing and he can have a real implant. 12 more years?

  2. Re: gifts/contributions

    OK. Do you know what pisses me off? After mainly giving to local outfits I know and trust, I start giving to national organizations; e.g., the wilderness preservation society, or the like. I don’t know which one, but one of these outfits SOLD my name and address to all sort of charities (?) , so I am deluged with mailed requests for contributions from everyone under the sun. (Pardon my cliches.) So this year, I will give only to the few local outfits I have had a long term relationship with–and actually trust. Actually, they profit, because they now get a larger piece of the contributions pie. So there!

    • You told them! Unfortunately when you donate to an organization you make it onto the “we’ve got a live one” list that insures you will be solicited past your demise.

      I failed to mention the great gift that you and MAC give the boys, savings bonds! They will pay off when they need it most. I also think that the donations in their names (a tree was planted, etc) teaches them the importance of philanthropy. Of course, at great cost to your sanity.

      BTW, you can always contribute to my boot habit, just sayin’.

      • Them boots are made for walk’n, so we’ll keep ’em com’n. I’ve got my own attachments to deal with–the ultimate coffee thermos, which I still have not found. Fortunately, I won’t go broke carrying out the search.

  3. One more comment. What precipitated Pussy’s (i.e., the cat’s) fall from grace? Once the object of your affection, now an object to be given to the studio? Just curious.

  4. I like gift cards. But I am organized and put them in special places so I don’t lose them. Basil’s mom bought us a gift card for this wonderful restaurant in Seattle. We had it for about 5-6years before we used it. We ended up going back to the place 3 times before we finally use up the card.
    It is weird but we didn’t seem to get around to using it while Janet was alive. But every time we ate there we thought of her and how much she would have loved the food.
    I still have a gift card from Janet to get a pedicure in a salon in a suburb of Seattle where I never go……

    • Cards are great if you use them. Most people aren’t organized enough to keep track of them, some cards lose value each month. But no one would ignore or throw away a stack of cash, that’s all.

  5. Hey, here’s a question on a minor point: who did the cute cartoon depictions of you? I mean, the new one just appeared with your anniversary post and it’s even cuter, but I don’t find anybody credited anywhere. (S/he gave you a figure like Jane Jetson:)

    • I had a little panic attack there! My illustrator’s name is Katie Kolupke and I just checked to make sure that I credited her work (I did) but it can be missed if you aren’t looking for it.

      She’s a wonderful illustrator that has helped me establish my “brand” identity. I love working with her, she captures that playful and impish quality that I wanted for my logo work. She made a very cute business card for me, too.

  6. It is true how most people don’t lose cash(hopefully). I remember for one of my birthdays Basil got 100 $1.00 bills and put it in an envelop for garage sales……It lasted a really long time.
    Oh I forgot to mention we had a neighbor whose kids tooth fell out, the dentist put it back in and it held. That is what will happen with your guy. It will work.
    I was thinking about you and gifts. I talked to my mom about flying out to Calif. after Christmas but not sure if Basil could take the time off. I told her I really didn’t need anything, I am in purging mode, so she said she would pay for my flight and that would be their gift. Spending time with my mom and dad, 4 sisters and 11 nieces and nephews. That is all I need. Quality time is my #1 love language.
    PLUS it will be warmer than 20 degrees 🙂

    • Money rarely gets lost and it rarely depreciates with time. I’m opposed to giving money to credit card companies and stores, for nothing. That’s all.

      Your trip to see your family sounds wonderful. There comes a time (hopefully) in everyone’s life that you don’t want things anymore, just experiences.

    • Oh, and my son’s tooth is holding. It isn’t splinted anymore or anything, but the question is, for how long. 21 is a long time away for an 8 year-old.

  7. I love receiving gift cards. I have a special slot in my wallet that I put all of them in there so if I’m at the store one goes to, it’s right there. I’ve been fortunate that all the ones me or my kids have been given don’t have expiration dates or fees or money that gradually disappears over time. When I’m going to buy a gift card, I look for that same thing, so they get all of it without any hassles. Probably 90% of the cards we get are for Walmart or Target. The nice thing is that even if you don’t use it all up, like say you have a balance of 97 cents, there’s no penalty or anything and the next time I shop at that store I’ll use the rest of it, it’s not much but it adds up. It amuses me though how often the clerk will offer to give the card back once it’s empty and I’m like no, I don’t need it anymore, but thank you. lol

  8. Just realized this is your most recent post. I was several behind, haven’t read anything since um Sunday. Monday I went in for my surgery and finally was able to come home Friday evening. So I was sitting here and thought I’d get caught up. This whole past week I kept going over in my head your post from your surgery. Mine wasn’t exactly the same of course but there was a lot of simularities. One good thing is that I do not have to wear the compression binder. I hate it and it makes it so hard to breath. And then I realized yesterday that your recommendation of using a recliner is a great one and really wish that I had one cause getting in and out of bed especially when your bladder is threatening to explode is not easy. Plus my cycle started Tuesday evening and so I have that mess to deal with also. Thankfully my kids have been great at helping me, though it’s awful embarrassing needing somebody else to wipe you after using the toilet cause you can’t twist around enough to do it yourself.

    I hear you about the cold. We got 6 inches of snow on Friday and it’s just been miserably cold all weekend and isn’t going to get any better anytime soon. It’s 9 degrees out there right now. These temps and the snow are just so rare for us this time of year. The person who gave me a ride home Friday evening has chains on their tires thankfully but it’s still kinda scary out there. Especially the idiots who have no clue how to drive in this, or just don’t care. My friend gave my son a ride down to Target yesterday too so he could fill my prescriptions. We haven’t gotten any new snow since Saturday morning but with it being so awfully cold it’s not going to melt and all the snow smashed down on the roads just freezes into one giant ice slick. And since we get snow so rarely here in Eugene, I won’t be surprised if my daughter doesn’t have school at all this week cause they’ll cancel school with even a mere inch or two on the ground.

    So anyway, I think I’m done with my book here and thanks for reading. lol

    • I am so glad that you are through your surgery. It sounds like you are well on the road to recovery. It’s not fun, is it? I’m glad that some of my advice has been useful. Take it easy and get better soon.

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