Christmas is quickly approaching, and what else would this time of year bring to mind except one of my favorite movie scenes of all time. In case you can’t tell from the title of this post, the scene I’m talking about comes from the 1992 Mike Myers classic Wayne’s World, which was an absolute font of wisdom for me when I was 10 and my brother wouldn’t (couldn’t?) stop replaying the VHS every weekend.
There are many quotable moments in this masterpiece of cinema, but the scene that always comes to mind at the holidays is the one where Stacy, Wayne’s stalker-ish ex-girlfriend, surprises Wayne with a gun rack as a gift. Watch the clip for the full effect.
Now Wayne probably could have handled this situation better. After all, yelling “You’re mental!” isn’t really an appropriate response for a gift, no matter how poorly thought out. But let’s face it – we’ve probably all given (and received) a “gun rack” at one time or another.
Gun Racks I’ve Received:
- Bad Gift Cards – It took me almost 3 years to spend a $25 gift card to Pier 1 because I hate that store so much. A Best Buy gift card lived in Mr. PoP’s wallet for over a year before he got sick of seeing it and finally sold it for a discount to its face value to one of his co-workers.
- Dust Catchers (aka tchotckes or knick knacks) – I really dislike having too many “things” cluttering shelves but some must see that as a deficiency that I need to fill with stuff that in my mind is only an added item to clean.
- Weird and Inappropriate Books – I won’t name any titles for fear of offending, but I’ve received a few books that have caused me to wonder if the giver knew what the book was about before giving it to me.
Gun Racks I’ve Given:
- Crystal Desk Clock To My Sister – I was 19 when she got married and had never picked out a wedding gift before. So on a trip to Europe I bought a fancy crystal desk clock. I thought it was classy and “grown up”, which of course is what getting married is all about, right? Permanence, heirlooms, and class? Wrong. It totally didn’t fit her style at all and unluckily it was a buy it for life purchase, so it’ll last forever sitting awkwardly on a back shelf in her office.
- Clothes That Were The Wrong Size – When you don’t see someone for 6 months or a year, buying them clothes can be a crapshoot. If they’ve lost weight or gained weight, either way ill-fitting clothes can draw attention to it in an undesired way.
Let’s be honest, giving gun racks to one another doesn’t really make anyone happy. Well, except for the manufacturers. So how do we stay out of this sticky territory altogether? If it’s really “the thought that counts” then let’s put some more thought into gifts for one another.
How To Avoid Getting A Gun Rack
- Make a Wish List Of Things You Want – My MIL loves the Amazon wish list. As long as she keeps it stocked with a variety of items in different price ranges (usually from books that are just a couple of bucks up to gadgets or software that cost over $100), she is virtually guaranteed to get something she wants as a gift for every major holiday.
- Be Clear and Firm About What You Don’t Want – My freshman year in high school, I made the mistake of buying a couple of school-mascot themed items for myself. For the next 6 years, I got high-school mascot themed items for almost every gift – even after I went to college! It took me sitting down with the giver and saying, “The time for gifts having to do with my high school mascot has passed.”
- Be Careful What You Admire or Compliment – There are certain people that don’t seem to get that you can admire something on someone else without wanting your own. As such, I’ve learned that sometimes you need to emphasize the directionality of a compliment. “Oh that scarf is so cute!” can be interpreted very differently from “Oh that scarf is so cute on you!” Subtle, but it’s there. And I think it makes a difference.
How To Avoid Giving A Gun Rack
- Buying Things To Fit Your Likes – Sometimes it’s tough to shop for someone that has a very different personal style since you can look around a store and the things that catch your eye are what you like. But if you really want to get that person something that they’ll enjoy, try going shopping with someone that they share style with, or heck – just take them shopping!
- Giving Something That Causes The Giver To Spend – Small value gift cards to expensive retailers are notorious for this. Have you ever received a $10 gift card to Brooks Brothers or Anthropologie? There’s just not a whole lot in there to be had for that. So to receive the value of the gift, the giver has to ante up some of their own money they might not have been eager to spend.
- Consider Giving a Shared Experience – Since time with friends and family is really one of the most valuable gifts of all, why not consider giving a shared activity that’s something new for everyone? We recently gave someone the gift of an afternoon of stand-up paddle boarding with Mr. PoP and I. She loved spending time with us, learning something new together, and enjoying the weather and the beaches.
Or Break The Gun Rack Routine Entirely
Lastly, if you’re in a routine of giving gifts with another person, but it’s become just that – “routine”, consider having a discussion with that person about whether the gift giving should continue. We’ve halted giving gifts with some siblings (since we’re all “grown up” and can usually afford to buy what we want!), and have tried to initiate the conversation with parents who are so far unwilling to halt the giving/receiving process.
What are some of the more memorable “gun racks” you’ve given or received over the years? Also, what are some tips that you can add to avoid giving or receiving a “gun rack”?