I feel miserable about it, but I'm wondering whether one other place to cut back should be presents for my kids' teachers, our housekeepers and our gardener. The gift cards I buy for them have been growing smaller every year as the economy worsens and our fortunes dwindle. I know every little bit helps, but I can't shake the feeling that there must be a threshold, and any amount below that would be insulting?
To make matters worse, there's this "Keeping up with the Joneses" thing that crops up alongside teacher presents. I totally agree with presenting teachers with pooled gift cards, because who in their right mind would want twenty loaves of teabread or mugs of cocoa mix or paperweights shaped like apples? My sister recently told me that the parents in her daughter's class have decided on a communal present for the teacher -- a small holiday tree. Cute, huh? But get this -- they want parents to hang individual gift cards for the teacher on the tree. Oh great. The person who thought of this must surely belong to the White Trash Mom's nemesis, the Muffia. What a thoughtful way to