Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Puzzles - By Ju­dith Martin, Ni­cholas Ivor Martin and Ja­cobina Martin

Dear Miss Man­ners: Ev­ery year around this time, I find loads of peo­ple, on­line and off, ar­gu­ing that gift cards are thought­less gifts. I’m sick and tired of this de­bate and would like it to stop.

If a gift card is bought at a place some­one ac­tu­ally shops at, I don’t see how it could pos­si­bly be thought­less. Es­pe­cially if it’s a store the giver them­selves would nor­mally not step foot in. For in­stance, there are stores that I de­spise, but if the per­son I’m get­ting the gift for loves them, then by gum, I’ll get them a gift card there and not force my fa­vorite stores on them.

So-called “real” gifts can be in­cred­i­bly thought­less. The shirt that is too small to en­cour­age the re­ceiver to lose weight, for ex­am­ple. I’ve had many peo­ple give me things they know I hate, such as CDs of singers I would never lis­ten to or DVDs of movies I’ve al­ready said I can­not stand, and they try to bully and force me to like them. I’d much rather have a gift card, thank you.

Peo­ple also need to con­sider that not ev­ery­one can spend hours shop­ping for the per­fect gift. My mother, who is dis­abled, fi­nally re­al­ized that it was just bet­ter to give gift cards be­cause she can’t get around like she used to and many sales­peo­ple treat her ter­ri­bly, sim­ply be­cause she’s in a wheel­chair. One even made her cry af­ter be­ing ex­tremely high-pres­sure while treat­ing her as less than hu­man.

So can we PLEASE put an end to this fight once and for all? Gift cards are not thought­less — un­less you get it for a store the re­ceiver hates, but you love.

Dear Gen­tle Reader: What an ap­palling amount of nas­ti­ness you have ex­pe­ri­enced in con­nec­tion with the sup­pos­edly kindly prac­tice of ex­chang­ing presents.

Must you keep up the cus­tom with hor­rid peo­ple who de­light in giv­ing you things you hate? Was that un­speak­able clerk who in­sulted your mother re­ported to her su­pe­ri­ors?

And now can we talk calmly about gift cards?

Yes, they are min­i­mally more thought­ful than out­right cash. But all you have done is to limit where the amount can be spent — and some­times when, be­cause those cards may have ex­pi­ra­tion dates. In­dus­try reports show that many go un­used.

But Miss Man­ners wants to be help­ful to you, and there are other op­tions. It seems un­likely that you would know peo­ple’s shop­ping habits with­out know­ing any­thing more im­por­tant about them. It is only a small leap, then, to choos­ing some­thing that might please each one — and that is likely re­turn­able, in case not. That is what thought­ful­ness means.

Miss Man­ners would like to see more thought­ful­ness ap­plied to your mother’s sit­u­a­tion. Can you help her shop, per­haps on­line? Can you and her other usual re­cip­i­ents ac­knowl­edge her sit­u­a­tion to the ex­tent of con­tin­u­ing to give her (thought­ful) presents while dis­cour­ag­ing her from send­ing any­thing other than her good wishes?

Ad­dress your eti­quette ques­tions to Miss Man­ners at her web­site, www.miss­man­ners. com; to her email, dearmiss­man­[email protected] com; or through postal mail to Miss Man­ners, Andrews McMeel Syn­di­ca­tion, 1130 Wal­nut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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