Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Get the Children Out of the Room

Well, more specifically, Jeanne, Kathy and Antoinette, get YOUR kids out of the room. Because I'm about to talk Christmas presents.

By virtue of geography, I don't see my niece and nephews (one girl and 5 boys) very often. At best it's 3 or maybe four times a year, and for the Texas branch of the family, even less than that. Bad auntie.

That said,  I love giving them gifts, but I struggle with just what to give them.  I like to think I know a bit about their interests, but  it's really only their interests at the time we last visited that I'm familiar with. A favorite band, an upcoming trip, a new driver's license. But I don't always know what they want, or need, or already have ... or worse, hate ... and so buying something has always come hard for me.

While I really don't like giving cash as a gift, it's really the best in this situation. I mean, even if I knew Nephew Four had wanted a thusandsuch in October, if he really wanted it, he'd probably have it by Christmas. And how likely is it he'd need two?

So I hit on the idea years ago to give cash in some quirky way only Auntie Linda could come up with; hence my search every preholiday season for the newest money origami websites. Did you know you can fold a dollar bill into a flower or a bird or a shirt or a pair of boots or about ten thousand different star motifs? I even found instructions to fold a dollar bill into a dollar sign. This year most of the kids are getting money leis. Having a peripheral connection to Hawaii almost makes it logical.

What makes my little plan slightly less than logical is the simple fact that I think paper money is hands-down the most disgusting substance on the face of the earth. Researching this post (I know I'm using the word researching loosely here) I learned of (and will never be able to unlearn)  the vile things people do with paper money before dropping it on the ground for the unsuspecting person to pick up.  HuffPo has reported on a study that contends that nearly 90% of paper money is contaminated with cocaine (while puts the number at 80%), due in large measure to the rollers in ATM machines, which serve to distribute traces of cocaine to all the other money in there. Time magazine reports that 94% of paper money is contaminated with e. coli and other pathogens.

I have been known to put paper money through the washing machine. Not because I left a few bills in a pocket by mistake. No, I have been known to do a load of bills. Okay, it was once. In my defense, it was mostly towels, but even I know the towels were only my ruse to justify washing my money.

When I was done with money folding for the day today, I resisted the urge to run down into the cellar to submerge my hands up to my elbows in bleach. But let me tell you. I scrubbed. With soap. And a brush. And that Clorox bleach pen from a week ago was still out, so some of that goop made it into my palms. I do feel much better now. Upside: I won't be biting my nails for a couple of days.


  1. LOL. That is the funniest thing I have read in a while. Maybe you ought to just write checks in the future? I'm sure you can find some charity wristband or something to buy for a couple of bucks that you can give as a token as well.

    I'm just saying...why put yourself at all that risk?

    Merry Christmas...great article Linda!

    1. Agreed! Money is soooo dirty. I feel dirt & soil on my hands when I just hold it briefly.

  2. Thanks, Carolyn! The saving grace was that I pre-ordered "new" ones from the bank. Does it tell you I don't bank with BoA when I tell you that it took 3 days for my order of $1 bills to come in? They weren't pristine, but they were better than most! Still, I'm still yucked out about touching it all!

  3. My mother not only would wash her money but she would iron it too. She couldn't stand wrinkly crumbled bills. She was qwerky but great.

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  5. Thanks, Geo -- You mom makes me feel, well, not so *out there*! I. Did. Not. Iron. My. Money.

  6. Hi Linda,
    Late to the party on this one, but what about ordering new money from the bank so that you don't have to touch the old, grungy stuff? The kids (depending on their ages) would probably like the idea of new money better, anyway. I love the idea of creating origami money. My nieces and nephews are almost all at the stage where they prefer money now also. Hope you had a nice Christmas!

  7. Oh, now that is interesting. I don't see anyone's comments until AFTER I published mine. And I thought ordering it from the bank was going to be a unique idea.....