Just a Thought

So the holidays are upon us once again. No matter which ones you celebrate (and I say celebrate them all!), this time of year offers some big occasion to make sure you are stressed out to some degree. Unless you don’t celebrate any of the holidays — then you just have to deal with a few hundred million other Americans who are stressed out over some big occasion, all the retail entities that both create and relieve those stresses, and those pesky couple of days off that keep you from going on about your life.


For the sake of simplicity and going with a “majority rules” philosophy, let’s talk Christmas. It’s Christmas time again. I’m cool with that. Except that several years ago I made a policy that I would not get caught up in the stress of the event. I stopped buying presents for people — not because I don’t want to spend the money or don’t like buying and giving presents, but because I grew up in a family where I would listen to the grown-ups sit around and gripe about how much the holidays cost and how they “had” to buy something for so-and-so and since they spent a certain amount of money on one niece, they “had” to spend the same amount of money on another niece and blah blah blah ... to the point where I grew up feeling pretty resentful of getting presents from certain family members at all. That’s not what it’s supposed to be about! You’re supposed to give me something because you WANT to give me something.


Look, I don’t really want a present from someone who gives it to me out of a sense of obligation. And I assume that other people feel the same way. I try very hard to adhere to that whole “it’s the thought that counts” saying.


Now, would it really kill people to think of me? I already told you about my card-sending tradition. For me, sitting down and writing out those cards every year is a very emotional and heart-felt effort. And there are a lot of names on that list! I usually send out about 120 cards every year and I’ve been sending those cards out for many years now. You’d think I’d get a few cards myself. The top of my polish rack (where I stick my cards) is currently sporting all of four cards. Here at home we have three — two of which came from our insurance agents.


What I really love is getting plates of homemade goodies. I suppose it’s possible that my clients bring me plates of chocolate chip cookies because they make a cheap gift. That’s OK. I am not gauging how much my clients love me by how much they spend on me. Homemade gifts are the best. It says that I rank high enough to be worth making a little extra effort for. I really appreciate that personal touch.


Not to be ungrateful, but this year I notice a distinct slacking off in the number of clients who have brought a little extra sumpin-sumpin my way in the name of the holidays. Which might be perfectly justifiable what with The Economy and all — except that the hairstylists’ stations are piling up with boxes and gift bags, their mirrors are nearly obscured by the cards taped to them, and the salon is quietly buzzing with the incredulous stories of how many clients have been gifting them with extra money this year. Lots of stories about how the clients who normally bring them a little present or knick knack have simply tipped 100% or more or slipped them a $50 or $100 bill.


I know Miss Manners says your gift to your hairstylist, manicurist, or whatever should be equal in value to one service — which adds up to more $100 gifts to the stylists and a lot of $30 to $40 gifts to me (BTW, I would about keel over if my clients spent that much on me!). But all I’m focused on here is the percentage of their clients who have done anything versus the percentage of my clients who have done anything.


Just focusing on the thought here, and feeling a little slighted that it seems like fewer of the people I see throughout the year are thinking about me. That kinda sucks. I see people every two to three weeks all year — some of them for several years now — and at the end of the year, they tell me how they were late to their nail appointment because they had to stop by the salon where they have their hair done to drop off a gift for their stylist whom they see once every eight to 12 weeks ... but I don’t even get a card.


Not that I’m bitter, of course! But I sure hope these people don’t expect an invitation to my pity party.


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