When the mother of one of your kid's classmates calls you and says, "We're collecting for a group gift for the teacher, so that we can get her something nice instead of 20 smelly candles. Plus it'll be easier for everyone that way. Would you like to contribute?" what do you think that means? Does it mean, "Hey, we're all chipping in and you can, too" or does it mean, "Hey, we're all chipping in but we're also all going to get the teacher a smelly candle." Because if it means the latter, then you might end up feeling kinda like crap when the teacher sat there and opened all of those freakin' candles at the beginning of class and there was nothing. from. your. kid. Right? Or, more accurately, you might end up sitting there thinking, "Why the hell are you opening all your presents in class? And why the hell didn't I spring for a friggin' smelly candle? And why do I feel guilty that I didn't spring for a friggin' smelly candle when I don't even like the way you treat my kid?"
Bah. This is thoroughly testing my resolve to practice a little holiday zen.