Gift-giving: An Ethical Dilemma

November 5, 2009

My own gift-giving dilemma.

SquirrelLamp8074 Left: The Squirrel lamp that would make the perfect gift. The shop manager was kind enough to let me take a photo of it so I could consult with Dick. I pasted the two views together in Photoshop. You can see there is lovely detail. It glows.

OK, after I thought about yesterday's post some more I realized I had to come clean about the Squirrel Lamp Dilemma. You see I found this lamp at a local store, Corazon, across from MCBA.

The lamp is made of porcelain. It glows when you turn it on. It manages to be both cheesy but elegant, not cheap (in the way that plastic glowing lamps can't manage). It also has a hefty price tag: $130.00—and worth every penny I can tell, but you see I would be buying the present as a joke.

The problem is, you can buy a lot of animals for folks who need them for the same amount as that joke. And why do I want to buy this lamp? Because C.R. loves squirrels (I hate them; where we live they are like rats with fuzzy tails). Every year for the holidays and on his birthday I find something squirrel-related to give him. Typically it is the latest "How to Rid Your Yard of Squirrels" book because I know he'll never read them and I take perverse pleasure in his reaction, which he takes perverse pleasure in generating. Past gifts have included a fabo squirrel-shaped nutcracker on a leaf (all cast iron, found in a "collectibles" arcade for $25!), small squirrel figurines, salt shakers, etc.

Will C.R. receive the Squirrel lamp this holiday season? Nope. Part of his being would be offended at the expenditure for something so frivolous. I have to reign myself in. So this year maybe Dick and I will buy a water buffalo for a family in the Philippines, from our family here. And CR will get a small package to open: squirrel, acorn, and oak leaf cookie cutters with a shortbread recipe.

Someone will give this lamp a good home (perhaps you!), I'm sure of that. And it will glow all the brighter because the intensions weren't perverse!

    • Nita
    • November 5, 2009

    Certainly you could give him the picture of the squirrel lamp with a funny explanation of your understanding of its sculptural beauty but your antipathy to buying such a squirrelly tribute!

    Or does he read your blog and will already have seen it?

    • Carolyn
    • November 5, 2009

    Funny gift theme! (and lamp.) How about giving a mug of acorns and paint a squirrel on the mug (or bucket) ….or, or, or…maybe a Roz mobile sculpture (Calder style) of acorns and sticks… 😉

    • Roz
    • November 5, 2009

    Nita, I don’t think CR reads my blog, he’s too busy inventing things. So for now Dick and I can enjoy the perversity with which I approach the gift search. I do know that had it been plastic and less expensive I wouldn’t have bought it because of “quality” issues so it is always fun to see where the edge of my own love of kitsch is.

    • Roz
    • November 5, 2009

    Carolyn, big duh, THANK YOU. I took my niece to the paint your own ceramic place last year and never thought about going back and painting a mug! (Love the idea of acorns.)

    And when I get tired of painting mugs and platters I can go to the make-it-yourself-mosaic store! And I could make a squirrel quilt.

    Thank you, I have all sorts of other directions to go!

  1. Reply

    Sounds like you made the right decision – but I understand it being a difficult one!

    Love the squirrel mug with acorns idea!

    Bet that Phillippino family – and their friends, family and neighbors – would appreciate that water buffalo more than any of us will ever appreciate anything!

  2. Reply

    Then there is the idea that if people stop buying the nicer squirrel lamps, the artists will quit designing them and we will be left with only plastic or none at all. Personally, I think you made a good choice as you aren’t stopping the humorous gift giving but making it even larger by helping someone else also. I just wanted to point out (and this would only happen if the person could truly appreciate it) that it’d be much nicer to receive one of your handmade books that costs a bit over getting the $1 composition book for a journal. They both work but… However, you did say he won’t even appreciate the item for it’s cost so that doesn’t fit here and it would be a waste.

    • Roz
    • November 12, 2009

    Timaree, the idea of supporting the artist is always on my mind, but with the commercial aspect of the lamp it gets a bit muddied. I do hope, and know in my heart someone will buy that lamp and many more like it, as they are beautiful and not expensive for what they are.

    No one in my family journals so none of them get handbound journals. There was a time years and years ago when I tried to convert them all, but…It’s sad to give a book to someone who doesn’t use it.

  3. Reply

    I can relate to this story, as I too, saw that squirrel lamp and wanted to buy it as a gift, but couldn’t quite justify the expense, cute as it is!

    • Roz
    • November 13, 2009

    Oh no, now I worry if he’ll ever find a home. Thanks for the note cynthia!

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