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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Hometown Crank

Dear Crank,

My girlfriend is very special. And I’m really looking forward to doing Christmas with her. But she’s pretty picky. She likes to go out to eat, she likes Burberry’s, she doesn’t like silver jewelry, she likes shoes, though I wouldn’t know how to pick a pair out for her, even if I had the money.

I really want to give her something special, but I can’t think of anything good that I could afford. What can I do?

In desperation,Busted Santa


Dear Busted,

I know what you’re expecting from me. In fact, I have a vague suspicion that your letter is a fabrication, designed to elicit a comically “Grinchy” response. But you know what? The Crank is a big fan of Christmas, and of poor people-being one himself, with thousands of comiserators on campus, I’m certain. So Busted, lemme tell ya somethin.

Christmas is not about what you spend. It’s not about getting a good deal on a special object your special person has been eyeing (unless you have a child, in which case you better take out a loan), it’s not even about showing how well you know someone by getting the exact thing-the thing they didn’t know they desperately needed until you bought it, wrapped it, and put it under their tree (that’s Ron Popiel’s job, right?). It’s about going the extra mile, letting your honey know you care enough to try your best. It’s about handing her (or him) a symbol that will remind her (or him) what a great guy (or gal) you are. Some suggestions:

Can you cook? Doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s even better if you can’t. Make her a batch of something good, like cookies, or peanut brittle. If she knows you can’t cook, and it comes out well, she’ll think it’s a miracle. You can’t screw up a gift from the heart anywhere near as badly as you can one from your wallet.

As with any rule, there are a few exceptions. The Crank knows for a fact that the following gifts have a good chance of fizzling badly:

A stack of coupons redeemable for your expert proofreading services.

White out.

Homemade soap (who knew?).

A copy of Strunk & White’s “Elements of Style,” recycled from your own private collection of cherished books, even if it is wrapped in gilded paper.

A case of Italian ice-cherry flavor! This is an especially bad choice for mothers; perhaps they’ve grown too old to remember how good Cherry flavored Italian ice is.


Well, merry Christmas folks. Have a great one. Come back safe and well rested.

Write to the Crank ([email protected]) with any of your burning questions. Your email implies consent to print its contents in the Mass Media.