If you're a smarty pants and prefer to read, here's the text version:
I love this time of year. The snowy streets, the sparkling lights on the rooflines of every building, the gaudy inflatable snowman villages on my neighbor’s front lawn. If you asked me what I liked most about the month of December I would answer, without hesitation, that it’s easier to clean up after the shop dog now that his poo is frozen. But a close second is the junk mail.
Now, we live in an electronic world. No longer are our mailboxes the only receptacle for flyers and catalogues and coupons and crap. We get loads of virtual mail to sift through as well, and these are often the most fun. On a good day I can get half a billion emails advertising everything from pills to make me skinnier to food to make me fatter. If I ever need testosterone boost to help sprout more chest hair, or a twelve bladed razor to shave that mess off, there’s an email for that.
But the best ads by far come from the woodworking suppliers. Woodcraft, Lee Valley, Whiteside, Highland Woodworking, everybody has a “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” or “Overspend Tuesday” or “We Just Made This One Up For The Heck Of It Wednesday”. I suppose they weren’t satisfied with the buying everyone does for Christmas so they had to make up a bunch of new shopping holidays too. Soon Roy Underhill’s birthday will be a national holiday and everyone will have buy suspenders and mustache trimmers as gifts.
Of course, it’s not all bad. There are some good deals to be found if you have a few hours to sift through the garbage. Just yesterday I found a free half sandwich my neighbor didn’t finish. But more on topic, I feel like some people are getting a little too carried away with the gift giving. Case in point: Today I got an email from a tool company telling me about their one day deal for the woodworker in my life. Touted to be the perfect gift, it cost a mere $2500… on sale. Now, I’m no cheapskate. I spend freely on foam brushes and dollar store sandpaper. But to me, $2500 is a big investment. A huge investment, especially for a tool. So if I’m going to shred that kind of lettuce I don’t think I’d be giving it away. There is nobody on this earth that I like enough to buy them a $2500 tool. I didn’t spend near that much on a health plan for the workshop, and have you seen the prices of tourniquets and sewing needles? Do people really spend that much money on someone else?
I’ve given a few gifts in my day. A month ago I gave Randy the shop boy an Arby’s coupon that expired two month ago. Chip got a free smack in the head just yesterday. I even bought Joy a foot bath so she can soak those big kankles of hers while she does the paperwork. I gave all these great gifts freely, not because of some new holiday that Hallmark made up just to sell more cards. (Secretaries day… seriously?) Nor was a single gift inspired by an email, except for chip’s smack in the head, which resulted from an email he sent me asking for time off.
The point is this… As much as I enjoy sitting on the toilet and reading the woodworking ads, I am seldom going to spend enough money on things in those ads to justify the enormous expense of producing all those ads. I’ll buy the $2 glue brush and the 70% off honing film if I need some of it. But the big stuff you’re trying to get me to spend on just so I can give it to someone that won’t really appreciate it as much as I appreciated all that money I laid it down to buy it… not going to happen. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there’s more happiness in giving than in receiving. So if receiving my gifts isn’t what makes people happy, why should I waste the money?