Now … Also Now


Clarissa Keil, a freelance writer who “shares her time between Switzerland and Australia”, piously explained it all in the Sydney Morning Herald last week: “The more contemporary practice is a charitable donation on behalf of a family member or friend instead of the purchase of a conventional Christmas gift.”

It works like this. You send your child, say, a note to warn you’ve become so high-minded that they’ll get no present this Christmas. You’ve instead sent the money for their present to one of the many charities now offering “ethical” Christmas gifts.

It’s not the tax deductions you’re after, of course, although you’re careful to keep the receipts. Waste not!

What really stirred you was the thought that your child’s present would do more good if sent to someone who might need it more, such as some herder in Africa or farmer in India.

So World Vision will send, for your children, a goat to Ethiopia or a beehive to the Gaza Strip. Oxfam will send condoms to Zimbabwe and even a $15 bag of manure to a Sri Lankan farmer—which hardly sounds in the Christmas spirit, frankly.

(Andrew Bolt, today)

Also Now

Of course, knowing mum sent a sack of shit to someone else for Christmas might actually give some comfort to the teary, but such gift-giving strikes me as astonishingly self-centred.

If you really want to donate something to some poor African or manure-deprived Sri Lankan, do it with your own money. Donating my present or your child’s instead of your own cash is stealing, not giving.

Worse, it’s stealing not just my present but the moral credit for giving it away, so please don’t boast.

You think I’m being too tough?

(Andrew Bolt, a little bit later today)

No Andrew, I don’t think you’re being too tough – it’s good to see that underneath the wannabe he-man exterior, you’re just a little boy at heart. A spoiled, self-centred, self-righteous, whiney little sook of a boy.


Posted in levity, life, media
25 comments on “Now … Also Now
  1. anthony says:

    Poor old Andrew, heard someone mentioning a ‘sack of shit’ and ‘gift’ and thought they were talking about him. The disappointment is palpable.

  2. crayziecarl says:

    while he takes it way too far, it’s not an entirely unpalatable argument…

    imagine being that kid and telling all your mates mum sent your present away? i think you need to receive (especially at a young age?) to understand the joy of giving. which is probably where andrew missed out… although I dare say, probably not thanks the generosity of others.

  3. gummotrotsky says:


    This for mine, is the money quote:

    Donating my present … instead of your own cash is stealing, not giving. (emphasis added)

    That’s an odd definition of “stealing” by any standards – and it bespeaks someone who values Christmas mostly for the joy of receiving.

  4. Vee says:

    I believe “My Wife and Kids” did an episode about this – ultimately it makes the ‘gift receiver’ feel lousy. I tend to agree and would not encourage the practice.

    Also it is more rewarding to give a ‘gift’ to someone you know and actually feeling joy when you see their positive reaction to your gift. If you donate to charity most of it ends up in administration fees.

  5. j_p_z says:

    Somebody once gave me a roll of scotch tape as a Christmas present, when I was a kid. He wasn’t anybody all that important to me, so I was kind of more amused than traumatized. Still, as an act of sheer Christmas Dadaism, there you go.

  6. gummotrotsky says:


    Also it is more rewarding to give a ‘gift’ to someone you know and actually feeling joy when you see their positive reaction to your gift.

    As an alternative, there’s that cringing feeling you get when the positive reaction is as fake as a five-dollar hoor’s organism.

  7. Carl! says:

    agreed gummotrotsky,

    it certainly is not stealing. but i think you’re guaranteed of that cringing feeling if you give your kid a $15 sack of shit they can’t even throw at their little sister.

  8. anthony says:

    Actually, without dwelling too much on the past, I was given a terry towelling ‘toilet bag’for Christmas as a kid and, not knowing what it was, assumed it was some kind of rudimentary portaloo. Fortunately the matter was sorted out before it got road tested.

  9. anthony says:

    And yes if by ‘most’ you mean 10-20%, Vee, then you’re correct.

  10. Bernice says:

    Oh my god – I’ve woken up – its the 25th of Nov, right, and Howard won, right? I’ve just been asleep,perchance to dream? & the bastards are now legislating to control christmas present distribution to the needy & deserving…nice white people?

    Because of course altruism is the evil that will eat away all we hold dear – being given stuff we don’t need by people we don’t like who then get to gloat all year at having unloaded the crap prizes from club raffle win 2 weeks before Chrissy….

    Or are ya just pissed Bolty that ya neighbour’s plasma’s bigga than yours eh?

  11. Maybe Andy’s attitude derives from an incident in childhood where he woke up on Christmas morning to find a sack of horseshit instead of the pony he asked for from Santa.

    If so, he should get over it – he’s done bloody well out of that sack of horseshit over the past few years.

  12. SofaMan says:

    I don’t know of a single person who has purchased one of these donation gifts in order to give it to a child, so I think this is largely a straw-man argument.

    I would probably agree that giving such a gift on its own to a child may seem a bit mean, though I’d be perfectly comfortable with it as a secondary gift – I think it would present a nice perspective to a child that there are many ways of giving and receiving. They both received something for themselves, and as part of that they gave something to someone else as well, and something valuable that enriches that person’s life.

    And as for petulant right-wingers with their whining sense of entitlement – Peter Costello anyone? It’s practically a defining trait thesedays.

  13. Fozzy says:

    I’ve just purchased some of these as gifts for my family. My thoughts:

    As SofaMan says at 12, I wouldn’t normally consider them a suitable present for a child.

    I generally hate buying presents. It’s not that I’m a Scrooge or anything, it’s just that I avoid hanging out in shopping malls most of the year. So to do Christmas shopping first involves spending a whole heap of time surveying what’s on offer. Then a second round to do the actual purchases. Unlike others, this amount of shopping I’d bores me even more than watching paint dry. I love seeing the joy on friends and families faces when I give them a gift, but I do that at random times during the year when I see something they’ll like – not because the calendar tells me to.

    However, as there is a custom in our economy (sorry that should be “society” we’re now post 24/11), to give presents at this time of the year, I find these gift really nice. I can give gifts to various people and I get to have all my Christmas shopping over in one lunch hour.

    And for those who like to cause a stir, the Condoms are the perfect gift for any fundamentalist Christian friends you may have. 😉

    Also, when decided to buy these gift, I did it do give something back to those who are lacking what my family and I lack. It was only when I went to pay for it I discovered the gifts were tax deductible.

    As other commentors have said, if Andrew Bolt thinks it’s stealing HIS present, it shows what a shallow and selfish person he is.

    Aside question: is it possible to be of the Right and not be selfish? Discuss. 😉

  14. gummotrotsky says:

    I suppose it’s worth noting, belatedly, that the idea of giving a donation to charity in lieu of a gift isn’t very new – it’s at least as old as that superb British comedy series The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. And not just at Christmas either – a fairly common request in funeral notices is that the money that would otherwise be spent on a floral tribute for the deceased be donated to charity.

    So it’s a bit of a puzzler that anyone should get so huffy over a fairly well-established practice. And slagging people off for doing as Fozzy does – especially if they’re (by now former) friends who’ve just informed you that you’re now the generous donor of a sack of third world shit – isn’t showing a lot of goodwill to all men. Or women.

  15. Nabakov says:

    I can sorta see his point. I’d be bloody pissed off too if I was a kid getting only a warm inner glow for Xmas.

    On the other hand, I could really get into receiving a ziploc baggie of some good shit during the festive season.

  16. mister z says:

    “If you donate to charity most of it ends up in administration fees.”

    What a load of old trope. God this old chestnut annoys me. Let’s try this on for size:

    “If you donate to a reputable charity, some proportion of those funds are spent ensuring that (just like a for-profit company) the charity meets its requirements under national accounting standards, is well audited, that they have systems in place to ensure that your funds are spent on what you expect them to be spent on, and that your donation has real impact in the lives of the beneficiaries they’re working with”.

    Or here’s an alternative:

    “If you buy from Myers, most of it ends up in executive salaries and spent producing junk mail to go in your letterbox and weekend paper.”


  17. j_p_z says:

    I’d say those of us who write on blogs probably donate giant piles of shit on a fairly regular basis, whether we realize it or not.

  18. I can’t gainsay that jayperz.

  19. Andrew says:

    I think this issue was well covered more than 10 years ago in Seinfeld when George cheaps out on Christmas presents by giving everyone card saying that $20 has been donated in their name to The Human Fund, which George made up.

  20. Craig Mc says:

    I’m sure Kevin Bloody Wilson wrote a song about this.

  21. christine says:

    Well, my child wants to be an animal rescuer (like Diego!). Asked him what animal he wanted to rescue, and he suggested a rhino. A donation to the International Rhino Foundation seemed like the most effective way to manage this. (And at a later stage, a good way to learn about comparative advantage, and that it’s better for all the poor lost baby rhinos out there if Mummy doesn’t turn up in Africa one day ready to rescue them.)

    But no way am I silly enough to think that’s it for my child’s Christmas presents. No way.

  22. FDB says:


    In the other tab I’m just done filling out a coupla Adopt An Animal forms on behalf of my nephews. I figure there’s something kinda tangible to it if they can pop off to the zoo and visit “their” rednecked wallabies.

    Plus the little tikes have more of everything than they could possibly need.

    Am I getting defensive?

  23. Am I getting defensive?

    Don’t let Bolt get to you FDB. Remember, underneath all the moralising, his main game is to make people of whom he disapproves feel as unhappy about themselves and their lives as he can possibly make them.

  24. Sam Clifford says:

    I, for one, will be doing by bit to stop the blow-out of Australia’s trade deficit by spending my money on Australian made goods. I will also ensure I don’t put upwards pressure on interest rates by spending as little as I can over the Christmas period, also ensuring I’m not stuck with crippling credit card debt come the new year.

    Am I an economic conservative at Christmas time? It’s a badge I wear with pride. Would Dietrich Bonhoeffer approve of my behaviour? I can’t say for certain but Ross Garnaut is due to report in the middle of next year.

  25. Sam Clifford says:

    Oh, working families.

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