I'm in, like, the nicest housewares store.
December 16, 2012 7:17 PM   Subscribe

Goddamnit you tricked me into clicking on a webcomic.
posted by mullacc at 7:21 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

But we can't have nice things. Everyone says so.
We ruin them.
posted by Mezentian at 7:21 PM on December 16, 2012

*sigh* I have this conversation with my mother every year. I can't wait to go home on Thursday.
posted by carsonb at 7:22 PM on December 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

Why is it all smoky in here?
posted by carsonb at 7:23 PM on December 16, 2012

posted by rebent at 7:25 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't get it. Where is the ending?
posted by 1000monkeys at 7:26 PM on December 16, 2012

I don't get it. Where is the ending?

Right there at the end. Also the beginning.
posted by 256 at 7:27 PM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

[Hmm, anyone find a link to the post about this? I'd rather link to that then the image itself]
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:28 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

mathowie: She just tweeted the png. I don't think there's an actual post on her website yet (if she is even planning one). Sorry if linking to a single image in not halal!
posted by 256 at 7:29 PM on December 16, 2012

mathowie, there is a tweet: https://twitter.com/beatonna/status/280509199467814913
posted by jcrbuzz at 7:29 PM on December 16, 2012

I also failed to get it.
posted by mannequito at 7:33 PM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

These personal comics are always so real. Kate Beaton is a very singular artist.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:33 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

The most recent Hark A Vagrant! about buff Cinderella is nice too.
posted by Nomyte at 7:39 PM on December 16, 2012 [6 favorites]

Just finished reading this via the tweet when I found this post. Thank you for posting. Still have something in my eye.
posted by motty at 7:41 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can never give back enough to a good mom.
(Partly because they make it so darn impossible. "Oh no no no, don't get me anything...")
posted by Rora at 7:54 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can't express how much I love Kate Beaton. I think she is phenomenally talented and her comics are hilarious and beautiful and funny and sweet. I'm so sad she moved out of Brooklyn. Kate, come back! Greenpoint misses you!
posted by silverstatue at 7:56 PM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

okay crying now
posted by The Whelk at 7:57 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is there a flashback sequence in the middle? Because otherwise... I don't get it at all.
posted by vidur at 8:01 PM on December 16, 2012

Yes, flashback. The little girl is her younger self, who often appears in her comics.
posted by Malla at 8:06 PM on December 16, 2012

Goddamnit you tricked me into clicking on a webcomic.

Damn lower artforms! It's okay. Leave it to us rubes.
posted by cmoj at 8:22 PM on December 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

My parents are exactly the same and impossible to get presents for.
posted by arcticseal at 8:23 PM on December 16, 2012

"Christ, what an asshole" doesn't work for any of these. That's a sure sign that this is nice.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:23 PM on December 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

My mom's 50th was in September. She's recently divorced a second time. I still haven't managed to come up with anything meaningful to give her. She's just not in a place in her life where most gifts have much meaning. It really makes me hurt. Especially so because, I imagine, the things she really wants, but is too nice to ask for, are exactly the things that I won't be giving her anytime soon.
posted by Nomyte at 8:26 PM on December 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

Everyone needs a Something Nice.
posted by Artw at 8:32 PM on December 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best read to the background music of Imogen Heap's "Just for Now" while weeping.

For people not getting it, think of it a bit like a quiet, parent-child version of Gift of the Magi: Daughter (and her brother by phone) longs to get Mom a wonderful Something Nice for a Christmas present now that she is grown-up and has extra money. Daughter browses through store of Nice Things. She remembers her childhood, imagining Young Daughter watching her Mom's wistful longing for Nice Things coupled with Mom's rejection of "Things"/materialism as unimportant. Young Daughter promises to give Mom ALL the Somethings Nice someday, but there is no object important enough for Mom to really need. Grown-up Daughter still longs to give Mom ALL the Somethings Nice, even though she thinks Mom will say (as narrated by Imaginary Mom) all she wants/needs is Daughter, so there is nothing Daughter can give her. Mom calls Daughter while she is shopping for Mom. Mom is sending extra money for Daughter to buy herself Something Nice, because Mom thinks Daughter will not like whatever Mom buys, so there is nothing Mom can give her. But it's important to get Something Nice for Christmas.

It's a lovely, subtle, bittersweet story because of that unsolvable conflict and unfillable longing. Nice things are lovely / nice things are unimportant; it's better to give than to receive / I don't know what to give and it drives me nuts; your love is enough for me / what I give to you isn't enough; what I want is unimportant / I want my loved one to have everything they want; I love you / I wish I could make you happy.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:13 PM on December 16, 2012 [59 favorites]

Kate Beaton is a national goddamned treasure. I also really love her previous wistful take on Christmas away from home.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:50 PM on December 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

Kate Beaton is a national goddamned treasure.

Can we here in the US annex, impound, or commandeer her in some way? I've seen her read here in DC, and she'd look really good on our $2 bills.
posted by Nomyte at 9:54 PM on December 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

Homeboy Trouble: That one spent a seriously inefficient number of character points in making me cry.
posted by 256 at 9:59 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I get it, but I have to confess my primary reaction is still "And...?"

This is simply what many of us buy into: transforming our deeper love and affection into inadequate tokens, and tolerating the slightly queasy feeling of guilty dissatisfaction that comes with it. We don't have to do that.
posted by Decani at 10:08 PM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Having spent Christmas and New Year stuck on a rig away from all civilization and friendly faces, homeboy troubles' link always takes me back.
posted by arcticseal at 10:16 PM on December 16, 2012

"... you don't have to do that."

But the deal with Christmas is, yes you do, that's what Christmas is all about, unless you and the others have declared a truce. I'm so thankful my sister and I have this agreement -- one less bit of aimless compulsory panic this month. (But her kids are awesome, and easy to buy for, and that's really something different entirely.)
posted by kurumi at 10:30 PM on December 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

We don't have to do that.

That comes through for me in the comic, though; the sweet to the bittersweet that keeps it from being pure "RAWR MATERIALISM BOO." How it opens with "I want to get them, like, everything" / "I know" and closes with "It's Christmas, I just want you to have something nice" / "I know". That fumbling acknowledgement that weighed against love and longing to give, everything is an inadequate token. But they exchange tokens anyway because they know what it represents. "I know."

I mean, yes it would be healthier and less stressful to just hug it out and save your money whatnot, but in the list of awkward ways people express their love the big worried gift hunt is one of the less insane options. There's a fine but crucial difference between "I must give you stuff stuff more stuff!" and "I have no words for how much I love you, only interpretive dance and/or this sweatshirt with glitter kittens."
posted by nicebookrack at 10:55 PM on December 16, 2012 [10 favorites]

And you know, there is value in getting the people you love the most a proper, well thought out, personal gift, even if it's also crass materialism to want the latest x-station under the tree (or a powder blue '54 convertible). And I can't help but think that some people who complain the most about being forced to buy stuff at ritual times just can't be bothered, rather than have a principled objection...
posted by MartinWisse at 11:03 PM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is simply what many of us buy into: transforming our deeper love and affection into inadequate tokens, and tolerating the slightly queasy feeling of guilty dissatisfaction that comes with it. We don't have to do that.

Yes you do. Gift-giving and tokens are human universals, but are certainly absolutely socially necessary in Western culture. It's what people do. You don't have to 'phone your mom either, or give birthday cards to your friends, or take a bottle to a dinner party. You also don't have to have anyone love or like you. Up to you.

It's gendered, of course, and there are many, many nuances. For example, young men can usually get away with failing to do Christmas-style gift-giving, but must always, always give gifts in the form of contributing to the group when out drinking. But the point stands: humans give gifts.
posted by alasdair at 3:01 AM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

I've been yelled at after Christmas for not giving nice enough gifts. It has soured me to the whole holiday. The rest of my family gives overly expensive gifts. I'm sick of it but I'm powerless to change it.
posted by candasartan at 5:44 AM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Giving presents has become a fucking arms race in my family, and as a poor person, I refuse to play.

So this was lost on me.
posted by marienbad at 5:53 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I really appreciate my mom's way of doing Christmas, which is to demand a Christmas list in mid-November, and then I get to demand one from her and Dad. So this year I knew they wanted nice dress shirts and they knew I wanted a bee suit, so they are getting nice shirts and I'm getting a bee suit. Some people think this is perverse and against the true spirit of Christmas but fuck 'em!
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:47 AM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I actually don't like telling people "what I want for Christmas," because I feel like if you have to ask, just don't get me anything. I don't want to feel like I have some claim against your yearly budget and have to submit an itemized list to stake that claim. I'm fine with not getting a gift, really. If it becomes an ask-and-receive thing, it's just become a "necessary" burden (a la alasdair's [to me] pretty gross conception of the whole obligatory gift giving thing) for both of us, so let's skip it and just hang out.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:07 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think it's her sister she's chatting with in the first frame. The sister is a frequent character and sometimes collaborator in the comics.

And Scott is her boyfriend. (Fellow cartoonist Scott Campbell.)

This touched me; I remember when I first started making significantly more money than my dad and how excited I was to get him "something nice" for Christmas. Love you, dad, always will.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:08 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I never understood the Christmas hate that MeFites always seem to have. It might be the situation I grew up in, but I've always loved Christmas. I grew up poor, and most of my family is still poor. But we all love love love to buy things for each other. Any time any of us would get any money, we'd always spend it on everyone else. and it's not just things, necessarily. Sometimes it was food we could never afford to eat, or to help pay a bill, or something. And no matter how much you love the gift giver, and know that they're doing it from the deepest, goodest good of their hearts, you can't help but feel guilty. But not at christmas. Christmas is the one time of the year that I can go out and buy that thing that my mom has been going without and give it to her and she won't feel guilty.
We tried to do a secret santa last year, where we drew names and the person you drew was the one you bought gifts for. That didn't work. We all ended up buying gifts for everyone [but mostly the children], and we all laughed at ourselves, and everyone was happy because it's christmas.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:24 AM on December 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm just saying, people shouldn't give gifts that are so expensive they feel that they need to recoup what they spent in what they receive.
posted by candasartan at 7:28 AM on December 17, 2012

I save all year so that I can do what I "don't have to" because I DO have to. I really, really do.
posted by Yellow at 7:32 AM on December 17, 2012

I love Christmas, but I don't care much for things. I tell my mom every year that the only thing I want is to visit her and dad and my little brother, but she never seems to believe me. I do love to give people things - not just people I know, people in general. Giving is a nice gift in itself.

I always get my family gifts; it really is the thought that counts. The gift is a manifestation of that thought, which is why some people spend a lot of money, others spend a lot of time, and still others do neither or both. For many, the time and/or money spent functions like points in a game.

However the gifting slices up, happy holidays. It really is nice to give.
posted by sockermom at 8:08 AM on December 17, 2012

We're pretty chill in my family. Some years people can't do presents, some years they can. The only people I feel obligated to buy presents for those under eight and those over eighty, and of course my mother, but I usually go the whole hog because I secretly enjoy the whole rigmarole. The only thing I refuse to do is a secret santa type thing because once there are rules things become stressful, and plus there are a few people I'd be extra sad not to be able to give presents to if it worked on the premise of only having to buy for one person. I guess I'm lucky my family is so cool about Christmas, and also that they'd all sooner cut out their tongues than insult a gift they were given. Christmas shouldn't be a source of unhappiness, and yet it often is.
posted by Lina Lamont at 8:08 AM on December 17, 2012

" I hate those people who love to tell you money is the root of all that kills / they have never been poor / they have never had the joy of a welfare christmas"
posted by M Edward at 8:36 AM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Keep the love. Throw away the box.

Sad, sweet, gentle reminder that you may someday have kids, and why good things are never simple.
posted by mule98J at 9:12 AM on December 17, 2012

Ah Christmas that annual orgy of giving. I love giving not so much the getting. I found myself in the middle of a family of givers, I dread the annual sorting and distribution of gifts. It starts at o-dark o'clock with the wee ones and continues through several stiff Bloody Mary's and then we break for breakfast and coffee. Next is the tweens they get more clothes so we have a fashion show typically we are done by two. The teens have been patiently waiting and rolling their eyes since they crawled out of bed for breakfast. They make quick work of their piles give their thanks and pecks on the cheeks and head out into the park to smoke dope and work on their appetites we have been opening gifts on and off for 6-7 hours and the adults haven't opened their presents yet. Now the tweens fight over which gifts the adults are to open first usually there is no mystery as you have bought the gift for the tween to give away or you wrapped it for them. Adults do Secret Santa then spouses do each other singles and dates don't always exchange gifts at the gathering of the clan but on more than one occasion it has turned into an engagement party. It is dark again some 11-12 hours after being dragged out of bed by grand kids nieces and nephews we can eat Christmas dinner, after dinner we entertain family friends exchange more gifts. We even have generic presents marked for unexpected drop ins everybody gets something. All in all between 150 and 200 presents are exchanged Christmas day. Every year I promise to skip it next year only to be sucked in to the madness again. Next year in Roatan! No presents all money goes to a week of diving...
posted by pdxpogo at 9:26 AM on December 17, 2012

I think some of Beaton's best works are the comics of little day-to-day snippets that she posts on Twitter frequently. The pieces about her family especially. This one really got me crying this morning.
posted by persephone's rant at 10:27 AM on December 17, 2012

I am totally in love with Kate Beaton's mum, and have been since these comics, especially "Manners".

"Well, you don't shit on your friends!"
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:13 AM on December 17, 2012

But the deal with Christmas is, yes you do
posted by kurumi at 6:30 AM on December 17

I am sorry, but I am living proof that in fact, you do not.

We are not automata. We can choose. We can act. Do our choices and actions have consequences? Sure.
posted by Decani at 12:28 PM on December 17, 2012

I didn't really grow up with Christmas, and this particular Beaton comic (and nicebookrack's exegesis) helps me see a facet of the holiday clearly.

The older I get, the less I trust my ability to make a dent in the universe, the more scars accumulate in my heart, the more I understand the importance of gesture. When all you can eke out is an insignificant photon, just one pixel, merely a signal about what you value, a crushing importance accrues to sending that signal.

My sympathies to all those who've had the signalling/celebration of holiday gift-giving ruined by anxiety and noise.
posted by brainwane at 5:47 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older What's Nyoongar for Norman?   |   The Board Games Women Make Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments