Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. It’s Better to Give than Receive but Tough to Ask for More

 

This is the worst time of year. Not the feasting of Thanksgiving or the celebrations of December, but when I’m asked every November to fill out an Amazon Wish List for my birthday (Nov. 21) and Christmas.

I bug my wife and kids to fill out their wish lists, so I better reciprocate. This year, like usual, I wasted a couple of hours on gift guides for guys, for dads, for writers, for podcasters, for malcontents, you name it. And I came up with bupkis. I can’t think of anything I want. Is this a guy thing? A getting-older thing? It can’t be just me, so I turn to the experience and wisdom of the Ricochetti.

Please note, I’m not some evolved spiritual being who’s transcended material concerns. It’s just that I have pretty much everything I want or need. Got a roof over my head, a decent car, food on the table, and coffee in the mug. I’m a minimalist at heart, so much more than that seems like clutter.

For modest items, if something catches my eye, I just buy it. If I need a new podcasting microphone or want a bottle of Basil Hayden’s, I’m not waiting until my birthday. But when friends mention some new luxury they bought (a Harley, jet skis, cabin in the woods) all I think is, “ugh, sounds like a lot of maintenance” followed by “where do you store jet skis?”

Over time, you learn that the more stuff you buy, the more complicated life gets. I’ve drooled over BMW motorcycles and imagined mountain rides with buddies on the weekend. Seconds later, I think of loans, insurance, upkeep, etc., and quickly lose interest. Likewise, a vacation home sounds great in theory (if I could afford it) until I consider the inevitable leaky roof and plumbing issues that come with it. The stuff you own quickly starts to own you — and I’m pretty lazy.

Since my birthday wish list was empty, I got a few checks from family members; no clue what to do with them. Joked with my wife that all I want is peace and quiet (teen daughters come with factory-installed drama) so I should check in to a local motel for a few days and do nothing. But then I’d feel selfish and my wife would need a few days on her own to recuperate from my absence.

At last, after a few days thinking of gifts, I remembered I could use a boom arm for my podcasting mic. Also, there was a book I heard about a few months ago that I never picked up. So now I have two whole items on my list.

Here’s where I turn to you, Ricochetti: Do you feel the same way? Is it an age thing or a guy thing? Can you think of anything I need on my wish list?

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There are 42 comments.

  1. Judge Mental Member

    How about motorcycle rental or something similarly ephemeral?

    • #1
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:11 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  2. James Hageman Coolidge

    I was glad to read this; it reflects my own state of mind, and even the experience with the Amazon wish list. I request of my children something they have made/composed, and the rest can go to the garbage. 

    • #2
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:14 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  3. Instugator Thatcher

    The best gift I ever gave @joalt was season tickets to the Strand theater, in Shreveport. It was a twofer, something she wouldn’t do for herself and something that compelled us to make time for each other.

    Other choices are, 

    An upgrade to an existing item (then you factory reset the one you own and give it to someone without). I did this in the desert when I upgraded to a new Kindle. I factory reset the old one and sold it to someone who has always wanted to try one.

    An experience, as mentioned by @judgemental above. There are all kinds, drive a racecar, take a flying lesson (powered or un powered), go to a tactical shooting course. Do a shoot house. Balloon. Stunt driving class.

    • #3
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:58 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  4. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    How about motorcycle rental or something similarly ephemeral?

    Yes, maybe an experience would be better than more stuff.

    • #4
    • November 29, 2019, at 7:00 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  5. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    It is the wisdom of knowing who you are and the experience of having spent money on hobbies and objects that bore no fruit, but took up space anyway. And it’s about not being moved by plebian consumer desires; consider that Marcus Aurelius famously refused to own a sports car even though Rome boasted the best roads in the known world and he was in a position to get his speeding tickets fixed. 

    • #5
    • November 29, 2019, at 7:18 PM PST
    • 12 likes
  6. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    TBA (View Comment):
    consider that Marcus Aurelius famously refused to own a sports car even though Rome boasted the best roads in the known world and he was in a position to get his speeding tickets fixed. 

    Especially considering Commodus’s Lambo collection.

    • #6
    • November 29, 2019, at 8:26 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  7. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    You know you’ve made it in life, when you can’t think of anything you need, and you have pretty much all you want. I like the idea of experiences rather than stuff. It’s off-season, so go stay on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for a couple of days. It’s really beautiful in winter.

    • #7
    • November 29, 2019, at 8:35 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. EJHill Podcaster

    It’s age. I’m there and have been for quite some time. 

    The only thing I ever wanted was a MLB fantasy camp experience, which now would only be one day on the field and six days looking at the ceiling in the trainer’s room. (Followed no doubt about worrying about the cost of reconstructive surgery on some joint – or two.) 

    Mostly what I want is peace of mind. But they don’t sell that on Amazon, either.

    • #8
    • November 29, 2019, at 10:07 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  9. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Ideas:

    -Some good quality everyday tools, like a nicely-made Leatherman or folding knife. Basic maintenance and no real storage issues. You can ask for a whetstone later.

    -A nice Maglite or other tough small flashlight. Comes in handy surprisingly often.

    -A firearm / ammunition / a firearms course. Maintenance and storage is mostly a big concern if you have not owned a firearm before. There are hordes of Ricochetti who would give you advice on this.

    -Stuff for amateur radio. It’s a nice hobby and not that expensive to get into. Barry Goldwater was a Ham, IIRC.

    -A nice safety razor, brush, blades, and soap. Not that expensive or space consuming to maintain. Stephen Green of VodkaPundit swears by this, and I agree with him.

    -Ask your wife for cologne. That way, you know she likes it.

    -If you do not have an e-ink reader like a Kindle Paperwhite or Nook, you are missing a space-saving way to read books.

    If you let me know more of your interests, I can suggest more ideas.

    • #9
    • November 29, 2019, at 10:59 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. aardo vozz Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    This year, like usual, I wasted a couple of hours on gift guides for guys, for dads, for writers, for podcasters, for malcontents, you name it. And I came up with bupkis. I can’t think of anything I want. Is this a guy thing? A getting-older thing? 

    Jon, maybe you’re just happy. It’s been known to happen in this life. 🙂

     

    • #10
    • November 30, 2019, at 2:13 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  11. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    The stuff you own quickly starts to own you — and I’m pretty lazy.

     

    Thanks, Tyler.

    • #11
    • November 30, 2019, at 3:30 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    Jon’s onto something here. I get asked the same questions, because I’m enormously lucky to have a family that loves me.

    But I literally don’t want anything. Golf clubs? Check. Tacos? Check. We have a home, two cars, flat screen TV (I’m old enough to have played Atari 2600 on a black and white TV, so this TV still feels like some kind of miracle to me). Gas grill. Girls have their own bedrooms and share one bath. Huge closets.

    We live in a quiet cul de sac. Sure, it’s a newer neighborhood, so the houses are kind of on top of one another, but there’s a yard, with trees, and an owl hoots sometimes early in the morning, as barred owls are want to do (and when they spot a cat in the window, and figure soup’s on).

    All that means, though, dear Jon, is that you’re going to have to clack your brains together a few times, to give the people you love something to give back to you, because they love you.

    How about a subscription to RedSteeze’s new podcart?

     

    • #12
    • November 30, 2019, at 3:36 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. Guruforhire Member

    I ask for new underwear, socks, a new set of slippers.

    Anything else would be too hyper-specific and expensive to be a gift.

    things like “a set of mid century ford stamped gauge blocks” (a historically significant artifact) just results in my wife looking at me blankly.

    • #13
    • November 30, 2019, at 4:02 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  14. Belt Member

    Yup, I’m with Jon on this. I haven’t cared about presents since probably high school, and even then I was more practical about it. For the past couple of decades I’ve been giving my Mom a half dozen books that I’ve already bought so that she could wrap them and put them under the Christmas tree so I’d have something to open at the family get-together. As a cranky bachelor who’s about to turn 50 I just don’t care about stuff these days, and I’m actively pruning my possessions as it is.

    • #14
    • November 30, 2019, at 4:43 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  15. Blondie Thatcher

    My husband and I haven’t done gifts for years. If we need it or want it, we buy it. Finally convinced my family of the same except the kids (which we don’t have). His family still insists on presents, but we tell them to opt us out. We don’t live near them and have no idea what they want/need. Why exchange gift cards? That’s just silly. I hate knick knacks. Just more stuff collect dust. How about telling them to donate to your favorite charity (unless of course that is you)? 

    • #15
    • November 30, 2019, at 5:16 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  16. Jimmy Carter Member

    Birthdays are a made up day of the year created by Big Greeting Cards in order to sell more merchandise. 

    • #16
    • November 30, 2019, at 6:35 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  17. Miffed White Male Member

    Things I want I’ve already bought. Either that or they’re (way) too expensive to receive as gifts.

    I despise gift-cards as part of a gift exchange at Christmas – if two people each give each $50 giftcards, what have you accomplished? (On the other hand, I’m okay with them at birthdays, which doesn’t really make sense because it’s just a disparity of timing).

     

     

     

    • #17
    • November 30, 2019, at 7:00 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  18. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    The key to gifts are things that are nice to have, but not immediately necessary. That’s why I put the items I did on the list – not necessary, but useful. Also, they are items where you can buy high quality gear . A decent knife can be had for $20 , a really good knife can be 10x that.

    • #18
    • November 30, 2019, at 9:24 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. Doug Kimball Member

    If you haven’t read them already, the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey-Maturin series of novels.

    Collected works of Robert Frost.

    Kimber K6S 357 mag.

    Coyotes tickets.

    A nice handmade knife.

     

    • #19
    • November 30, 2019, at 9:47 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Ideas:

    -A nice safety razor, brush, blades, and soap. Not that expensive or space consuming to maintain. Stephen Green of VodkaPundit swears by this, and I agree with him.

    -Ask your wife for cologne. That way, you know she likes it.

    -If you do not have an e-ink reader like a Kindle Paperwhite or Nook, you are missing a space-saving way to read books.

    Got a few of these, but great tips.

    About 10 years back, I got crazy into wet shaving. Got the Merkur 34C HD, Personna blades from Israel, a Vulfix super-badger brush, and all kinds of creams, soaps, unctions, and potions from fancy overseas suppliers. My wife thought I joined a tantric shaving cult. It’s so much nicer than whatever 67-blade contraption Gillette came out with.

    I got several colognes during this same time and they sit dusty on my shelf since I rarely emerge from my house :)

    And, yes, the Kindle is wonderful. One reason I got it was to eliminate the need for more bookshelves.

     

     

    • #20
    • November 30, 2019, at 12:08 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  21. Guruforhire Member

    If you are looking for ideas:

    https://gerstnerusa.com/

    My daughter just asked to bake a cake for jesus. I squee’ed inside, because you know, reserved man, and stopped work to go upstairs and help her.

    • #21
    • November 30, 2019, at 12:11 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  22. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Belt (View Comment):
    As a cranky bachelor who’s about to turn 50 I just don’t care about stuff these days, and I’m actively pruning my possessions as it is.

    A few years after getting hitched, I proposed a rule that for every item we add to our house, we eliminate one other item. She was violently opposed to this suggestion.

    A couple of weeks ago, she looked around the house, at the knick-knacks and collectibles, and said, “where did all this crap come from?”

    Since I wished to preserve my life and health, I just shrugged.

     

    • #22
    • November 30, 2019, at 12:11 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  23. DrewInWisconsin, Type Monkey Member

    It’s not just you. Every year for my birthday or Christmas I implore my family “Do not get me anything!” and they always disobey.

    And even though I sometimes dutifully create a wish list (typically full of books) they pretty much ignore it and buy me shirts. I almost always have to return what they get me because it’s not my style or it doesn’t fit right or something. Then I feel worse for returning what they got and getting myself something different.

    So when I say “Don’t get me anything!” I really do mean it.

    Unlike my wife, who also says “Don’t get me anything,” but we know she really doesn’t mean it, right guys?

    . . .

    Yesterday, Daughter #2 demanded that I fill out a wish list on Amazon and send it to her. So I did, along with the command “Do not get me anything!” I fact, I ordered myself something last week, and I’m hoping I can convince them to just wrap it up and stick it under the tree for me.

    • #23
    • November 30, 2019, at 12:13 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  24. Full Size Tabby Member

    Apparently we (Mrs. Tabby and I) are not the only ones. Fortunately our families have never been into much gift-giving. Since just last year we went through a major house downsizing, we are definitely avoiding more stuff. 

    The most gift-happy person is our family is my step-mother. She always asks for specific requests, so we save up ideas, mostly asking for nicer versions of what we would otherwise get ourselves (for me, car washing and waxing stuff and fountain pens; for Mrs. Tabby quilting tools). Right now we’re also adjusting our wardrobe to a new state with different weather, so that gives us clothing options.

    We like the “experience” concept. Since you have experience with steam-powered power plants on submarines, maybe you’d like to try a train version (with a different fuel).

    Our daughter and son-in-law have produced two grandchildren in the the last 3 years, so that provides gift opportunities both ways for some time to come. They can present us with photos of and artwork by the grandchildren. And when we visit them encourage the parents to go on an adult date while we play with babysit the grandchildren. They also are trying to keep children’s stuff to a minimum (they have a small house with very little storage space). We have passed on a few toys that our daughter and son played with when they were very young. 

    • #24
    • November 30, 2019, at 1:19 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  25. Full Size Tabby Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    About 10 years back, I got crazy into wet shaving. Got the Merkur 34C HD, Personna blades from Israel, a Vulfix super-badger brush, and all kinds of creams, soaps, unctions, and potions from fancy overseas suppliers. My wife thought I joined a tantric shaving cult. It’s so much nicer than whatever 67-blade contraption Gillette came out with.

     

    I have used a Merkur razor with Personna blades and a badger brush for years because its cheaper than the 67-blade Gillette contraption. There are domestic distributors (I use West Coast Shaving). I have found a shaving cream and an aftershave balm I like, and refuse to be sucked into the distributor’s efforts to get me to buy vast different types of creams, lotions, and multiple different brushes and razors.

    • #25
    • November 30, 2019, at 1:26 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  26. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    despise gift-cards as part of a gift exchange at Christmas – if two people each give each $50 giftcards, what have you accomplished? (On the other hand, I’m okay with them at birthdays, which doesn’t really make sense because it’s just a disparity of timing).

    I think it depends where the gift card comes from. If it’s from somewhere like Amazon it doesn’t really matter because they have everything anyway. If it was from someplace more specialized I would take it as “I know your interests but I don’t have enough knowledge of them to buy a specific gift”. 

    • #26
    • November 30, 2019, at 1:47 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  27. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member

    DrewInWisconsin, Type Monkey (View Comment):

    It’s not just you. Every year for my birthday or Christmas I implore my family “Do not get me anything!” and they always disobey.

    And even though I sometimes dutifully create a wish list (typically full of books) they pretty much ignore it and buy me shirts. I almost always have to return what they get me because it’s not my style or it doesn’t fit right or something. Then I feel worse for returning what they got and getting myself something different.

    So when I say “Don’t get me anything!” I really do mean it.

    Unlike my wife, who also says “Don’t get me anything,” but we know she really doesn’t mean it, right guys?

    . . .

    Yesterday, Daughter #2 demanded that I fill out a wish list on Amazon and send it to her. So I did, along with the command “Do not get me anything!” I fact, I ordered myself something last week, and I’m hoping I can convince them to just wrap it up and stick it under the tree for me.

    Well if they’re not going to get what you ask for then I don’t see why should bother. I also don’t get the idea of wrapping up something you already bought as a gift. Even if I don’t want anything, I’m not going to subvert the tradition of gift-giving by knowing what it is I’m getting.

    Not that I haven’t gotten quite a few gifts that I was fairly certain what they were before I opened them, but I didn’t know.

    • #27
    • November 30, 2019, at 1:50 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  28. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member

    MACHO GRANDE' (aka – Chri… (View Comment):
    But I literally don’t want anything. Golf clubs? Check. Tacos? Check. We have a home, two cars, flat screen TV (I’m old enough to have played Atari 2600 on a black and white TV, so this TV still feels like some kind of miracle to me). Gas grill. Girls have their own bedrooms and share one bath. Huge closets.

    To be fair, I don’t believe I’ve ever come across a situation where tacos wouldn’t be appreciated. (Also a good use for gift cards, because it’s kind of hard to a) not eat tacos while wrapping them and b) keep them from going bad while you wait to give them).

    That’s sort of my problem also. It’s not that I don’t want anything, it’s that I don’t have any wants of the sort that make for good gift opportunities. Most of the things I want are listed under “if I won the lottery”. You know, like an island compound or a tank. Things like that.

    • #28
    • November 30, 2019, at 1:54 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  29. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member

    While I’m at it, I think someone on Ricochet recommended these guys a while back, and it seems like the sort of thing that would work well for this situation.

    • #29
    • November 30, 2019, at 1:55 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. DrewInWisconsin, Type Monkey Member

    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw (View Comment):
    I also don’t get the idea of wrapping up something you already bought as a gift. Even if I don’t want anything, I’m not going to subvert the tradition of gift-giving by knowing what it is I’m getting.

    Well, my wife tells me that if they didn’t get me anything — as per my request — everyone else would feel weird if they were opening gifts on Christmas and I wasn’t.

    But I mean, “nothing” was just what I wanted! The perfect gift!

    • #30
    • November 30, 2019, at 3:46 PM PST
    • 2 likes