In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 8, 2007 / 18 Adar, 5767

More gifts? You shouldn't have

By Malcolm Fleschner

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Like most right thinking citizens, you were no doubt outraged at the news that the thugs at the IRS were planning to go after Hollywood celebrities who fail to pay taxes on the gift baskets they receive as presenters at the big awards shows. What's next for these IRS bloodsuckers, you must have wondered, chasing down amputee Iraqi children flown to the US for medical care to make them pay taxes on their donated prosthetic limbs?

Admittedly, these celebrity thank you gifts are a step above the everyday gift baskets most of us are used to — the kind filled with biscotti, fruit preserves, chocolates and other indulgences that you might send to a neighbor as a way of saying, "Sorry for getting drunk and digging up your septic tank with my backhoe." No, the IRS targeted these awards show "swag bags" because they're often crammed with thousands of dollars worth of diamond necklaces, iPods, designer purses, free cosmetic surgery coupons and, for the very top tier celebrities, ready-to-adopt African babies.

Rather than take on the IRS, the Golden Globes and Academy Awards have opted to do away with gift baskets entirely. Under normal circumstances I would oppose this sort of heavy-handed government intrusion on principle (the principle being my delusion that I might someday be on the receiving end of one of these goody baskets), but in this case I see an upside.

My hope is that, much like so many other fads that got their start in Hollywood (see: The "Rachel" hairstyle, Tae Bo, naming children after fruits, etc.), this move by the big awards shows will spark a nationwide trend away from our culture's obsession with compulsive gift-giving.

I can't be the only one who's noticed that you can barely get through an otherwise mundane social function nowadays without armfuls of presents changing hands. Before leaving the house, you have to first ask yourself, "Wait, do I need to bring a housewarming gift? What about a hostess gift? A graduation gift? An office Secret Santa gift? Is it Valentine's Day? Mother's Day? Father's Day? Grandparents' Day? Secretaries' Day? Give Everybody You've Ever Met a Gift Day?"

Lately it's even become commonplace for people to send gifts as a thank-you for gifts they themselves have received. This, in turn, has led to the endless thank-you note cycle from which it is impossible to escape ("I'm writing to thank you for the note you wrote to thank me for the note I wrote to thank you for thanking me for your thoughtful note of thanks.")

Bridesmaids probably have the worst time of it. It's not bad enough that they have to purchase new dresses and matching shoes that, on the Standard Hideousness Scale, typically rank somewhere between "Cringe-worthy" and "Even Dennis Rodman Would Refuse To Wear This." No, today's bridesmaid must also go deeper into debt than a Third World country to come up with, at a bare minimum, an engagement present, multiple bridal shower gifts, a "wishing well" gift, a bachelorette party gift and, of course, a wedding present. That's to say nothing of the gift for the baby shower which, nowadays, at least is often conveniently held at the same time as the bridal shower.

I admit that recently, while helping my wife wrap yet another present for yet another distant acquaintance to acknowledge yet another minor life event, I let loose with my frustration.

"Why can't we just go back to the way things were in the old days when you only had to get presents for people on Christmas and their birthdays?" I fumed.

"But don't you think that would be a little unfair to people who are Jewish?" she asked.

I admit I was a bit taken aback by her question. I tried to keep my dismay at her ignorance to myself, patiently replying, "Um, honey, I don't know how to break this to you, but Jewish people celebrate birthdays too, you know."

I guess my main problem with all the rampant present-exchanging, besides the cost, is that you often wind up having to buy gifts for people you barely know. But isn't the personal touch what makes giving someone a gift so special? Say, for example, that you have a friend with a birthday coming up. After thinking over what might make the perfect present, you recall that he's an avid Beanie Baby collector. Armed with this piece of information, you immediately realize the proper course of action, which, of course, is to end the friendship. I mean, come on, a grown man collecting Beanie Babies?

This is no doubt a good start, but much more work remains. Perhaps, with luck, through this column I can turn the tide against the gift-giving epidemic plaguing the nation. If I succeed, feel free to thank me. But please, no gifts.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Malcolm Fleschner is a humor columnist for The DC Examiner. Let him know what you think by clicking here.


02/22/07: Relationships can be such a chore
12/05/06: Who's calling the shots?
11/09/06: I'm taking selling to a whole new level
10/27/06: Some skills are beyond repair
10/18/06: You can't tech it with you
10/04/06: Award to the wise
08/24/06: Phrased and Confused
08/09/06: We're Gonna Party Like it's $19.99
07/19/06: Just Singing in the Brain
05/24/06: Who says you can't go home again?
05/11/06: When nightly news stories go off script
04/26/06: Cents and sensibility: A thought for your pennies
03/16/06: The day the Muzak died
02/23/06: Checkbook diplomacy begins at home
02/15/06: Today's toys: Where learning means earning

© 2006, Malcolm Fleschner