Everything you need to know

Dear Joe,

I know it’s a long time away, but I’ve been thinking about who to buy presents for this Christmas. Often, I find that the people I buy gifts for are unthankful, and even aggravated. How do I avoid gifting those who do not wish to be gifted?

—Presently Confused

Dear Confused,

The gift question has always been extremely difficult. While I can’t give a direct answer, I’ll try to explain my opinion like I do with any holiday question: by relating it to It’s a Wonderful Life.

If you haven’t seen the movie, turn on the television, it’s always on during this time of year. In the movie, George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, works his whole life to help others, but one day finds himself down on luck and wishes he was never born. Fortunately, an angel shows him that it is, in fact, a wonderful life by illustrating how bad things would have been without him.

In your case, you probably won’t get the same treatment if your gift giving doesn’t go so hot. But worry not. You always have the power of utilizing the “they’d be sorry if I weren’t around” dream. That’s right. Indulge in your passive-aggressive thoughts of earthquakes and famine that occur because of your non-existence. If you gave a friend a Chia pet, imagine him in misery over his drab dorm room, begging for some form of botanical companionship.

This method will provide a quick fix for when things aren’t going your way. Of course, you could always try direct confrontation. However, in an age of YouTube comments, we’d all prefer to expel our true feelings without getting caught over it.

I hope that you have a good holiday season. More importantly, I hope you don’t listen to a word I said.

With a cup of cheer,

Dear Joe,

I was recently caught by the police for public drunkenness. Besides this smear, I’m usually the model student. I get straight As, volunteer for charity regularly, and even sing in my church choir. How do I keep this red mark from invading my otherwise squeaky clean image?

—Drunk with Regret

Dear Drunk,

To answer in short: You don’t. The fact of the matter is that you acted irresponsibly, and now you’re paying for it. While your first impulse may be to cover it all up, the more honorable thing to do is accept your mistake head on. You may get scolded by others. Your choir might require you to sit in the back row and turn around so no one sees you.

But, eventually, all the commotion about your citation will pass, and you can get back comfortably to your George Bailey lifestyle (see other question).

To be honest, chances are you’ll screw up again and again. Just make sure that when you make these mistakes, you try to learn something from them. I know I feel like an old man saying this, but now’s the time to make these mistakes. When we all grow up and run the Building and Loan like George Bailey did, we won’t have the luxury of getting drunk when customers demand their money during a financial crisis. I hope you can grind through these hard times with your chin up. Just remember, it’s a wonderful life, even when you’re caught drinking.

With sobering qualities,