Because I can't seem to fit it in the narrative of the post, I hope everyone had, is having and/or will continue to have a merry and fruitful holiday season

There is a hierarchy of gifts.

The best gifts make one blush at the sheer heft of the expense(of time or money)/consideration/effort/personal significance (usually multiple items from said menu) involved. Some highlight the extent to which the giver knows you. Either they've crafted something that vibrates at a similar pitch to your soul, or they've managed to find something that you'd never thought about owning but find no end of use or enjoyment. Or maybe they've given you something that speaks to the bond shared by the two of you.  In any case, even if you've taken to e-mail or the phone for your thank-yous these days, these ones will have you digging for the stationary and a nice pen.

On a slightly lower level are gifts that are evidence that the other person cares enough about you to pay attention. At some point since the last customary occasion for gift-giving, you mentioned something you needed or lusted after, and they held onto this bit of knowledge until it was time to use it. Bonus points if they went to special effort to keep tabs on whether or not you'd managed to aquire it on your own while simultaneously deflecting any anticipation you may have of what it is.

Then there are those humble tokens that are, at their best, merely neat.  You didn't need them or particularly want them, but all the same it's pretty cool that you have them now.

Each of those tiers has its Platonic ideal, imperfect efforts to achieve that ideal, and backfires("You spent HOW MUCH money so that you could be one of those fuckwads who buys a luxury sedan with a bow on the top as a Christmas gift with no prior consultation with the person who's supposed to be your PARTNER?"), but generally speaking, if you've given a gift that falls into one of those three categories, you've acquitted yourself.

You might say that that's an odd turn of phrase to use to describe giving a gift, but for some people, gift-giving is a part of their job description, as is gift receiving. Witness Hillary Clinton as she sits for an interview with a couple of Australian knuckleheads.

An aside:  You see that part at the very end?  Where the host marvels at the fact that our Secretary of State-- our representative on a world stage littered with the bastard children of the Cold War-- even freaking exists?

That right there was a quick hit of American Exceptionalism, for those of you who may have been jonesing.

A born diplomat can, for the purposes of a discussion, stitch their corner of the world with yours without paying mind to the seam, earnestly dissuading other parties from even noticing that it's there. We should cherish this talent wherever we find it, even if it's possessed by someone about whom we've said and thought fairly mean things in the past (whether or not we would take them back if given the choice). That here the world she's entered is one where a gorilla suit is more likely than a three-piece suit is immaterial.  Even when confronted with fairly odd questions, and there are some more, she responded honestly and in a way that offers unexpected insights.

Personally, I'd like to know how Secretary Clinton would receive a Lamborghini ballcap that doesn't fit and was most likely obtained freely from the sort of confab one goes to if they're the sort of person who might ever buy a Lamborghini-- and, for the purposes of this hypothetical, she isn't, and wouldn't be even if she could afford it-- which was clearly given as a means of keeping up appearances, by someone from whom you expected nothing and whose prior behavior lends one tho believe that they think that this minuscule window into the world of ostentatious motorfuckery, offered to someone who can't afford a used 4-banger, is of value in and of itself.

You know, hypothetically.

It's often been said that it's the thought that counts.  It is far less often noted that this too can be damning.


  1. hypothetically she'd probably wear it when diplomatically necessary....and you...;)