One of the things that confounds Oliver is making choices, and when you sit back and think about the number of things in everyday life that are choices—what clothes to wear? what to have for breakfast? lunch? supper? multiple choice tests, what’s your favourite? questions—it’s a tsunami.
The tsunami crested before Christmas when motherless Oliver was faced, for the first time, with buying Christmas gifts all by himself.
One day in late November I came home to find that Oliver had uncorked a prepaid Visa card he’d be given for for his 20th birthday. I asked him what he’d used it for, and he was cagey in that “don’t ask because it involves you” kind of way. He eventually admitted that he’d used it on a website that would take over the process of buying gifts.
Alarm bells immediately went off inside my head: a website that collects credit numbers and the names, addresses, and predilections of friends and family? That had danger written all over it.
While Oliver’s Visa was only worth $25, so his financial liability wasn’t great, his emotional liability was on the line, and so, treading the murky line between privacy invasion and duty of care that parents know well, I set off to find out everything I could about joyful.gifts.
Initial signs weren’t good: there was no physical address or location listed on the site, no social media links to follow, the domain name registration hid the contact information, and an initial email inquiry went seemingly unanswered. I feared the worst, and consulted brother Mike to seek confirmation of my paranoia.
And then a surprising thing happened: I got an email back from Mariam, apologizing for a tardy reply:
Yes! We are real :) We were so excited when your son found us. The internet is a huge place and it’s hard to stand out and compete against the Googles and Amazons of the world.
We exchanged a few more emails, and I learned they’re a small family startup near Bear, Delaware. Based on my experience, they added links to social media on their site, and I was able to follow those to the point where I was satisfied enough that they were on the up and up. So I handed over my credit card and waited for joyful.gifts to save Oliver’s Christmas.
And, as it turned out, they did exactly what they said they were going to do: they sent custom-tailored gifts to everyone Oliver specified, with a per-gift limit of $25 and a per-gift fee of $4.99, shipping included. The gifts arrived on time, with a gift card from Oliver, wrapped nicely in fabric bags. My mother received a music box, my brother Johnny a perpetual motion machine, and I received a USB-powered digital clock.
Oliver, miracle of miracles, pulled a Kobayashi Maru on Christmas.
Today in the mail I got a lovely handwritten thank you card from Jonathan and Mariam at joyful.gifts, and they asked me help spread the word about their enterprise; I’m happy to do so. If you too are challenged by choice (or time, or, during COVID, ability to shop), Oliver’s experience suggests that joyful.gifts might be just the site for you.