Gift Baskets: Your Ticket Out of Guilt

Posted on
Nov 20, 2012

Sometimes, I suck.

I mean, big time. Several of you are reading those lines and thinking, “Oh, yes, I know. I was just about to leave a comment on your blog expressing that EXACT same sentiment.”

Others of you are thinking, “Well, sure, you suck, but who among us does not?” And for your gracious understanding, I thank you.

But believe me when I say, I suck slightly more than most people (I do recycle though. So I have that going for me.)

How do I maintain my title as Asshole of the Week for 755 weeks running? Because I prioritize things terribly. I am always on the road, and I am constantly missing important events in the lives of those closest to me. Weddings. Birthdays. Baby showers. 7,000 mile oil changes.

You name it, I’ve missed it.

And thus far, I’ve missed the first four months of my nephew’s life. I wanted to be there when he was born, but that coincided rather nicely with my brain surgery, so that didn’t quite happen. I was supposed to visit last month, before Halloween, but a miserable cold knocked me on my ass.

I made a few haphazard attempts to reschedule my flight, but they didn’t pan out. One week I was in Milwaukee. Another week I was in Boston. Then New Hampshire. I figured I’d just see my nephew on Thanksgiving Day.

But as the weeks passed, my brother’s missives have changed in tone from begrudgingly acknowledging my visit (“I guess you can come stay with us.”) to bemoaning my absence. (“Come soon. We are drowning. Also, bring food.”)

And I realized that I had literally gone to Europe and back, and then across the country TWICE, before even visiting my little nephew.

Like any good Catholic, I have been overcome with guilt over this. And like any good Catholic, I am going to use food to get myself out of trouble. I will be meeting my nephew this Wednesday. But last week, I sent my brother a box of goodies.

I filled it with stuff I figured he and my sister-in-law would like. Fancy little flavored nuts (heh). Expensive salami. A pack of Minstrels which I had to gently coax away from my husband.

For the uninitiated, Minstrels are the British equivalent of M&Ms, but worlds better than their U.S. counterparts. I am not saying that to be pedantic or urbane (I’ve given up on that YEARS ago). They are just BETTER. I would cut someone for a Minstrel. I have never cut anyone for an M&M.

Unless we’re talking mint M&Ms, which are an entirely different matter. They are awesome. I also included a bag of those.

And I grabbed some chocolate sprinkles that literally had our last name printed on the box. Plus a couple of extra “j”s. But hjey – there’s nothjing wrong with superfljuous ljetters, rjight?

And then I found these, which are hilarious for obvious reasons.

I also included a note. Here is the post-script:


And then I texted my brother, to see if my gift basket got me out of trouble. To see if things were back to normal.


Leave a Comment

  • I would forgive any slight against me for a bag of valdosta pecans.

  • Wait just a minute! There are mint M&M’s now? How have I missed those?

  • Iain

    I could live on Minstrels. Mmm mmm mmm. We do get m&ms here too, but they don’t come close.

  • I can see a sense of humor runs in the family!

  • Minstrels were a deciding factor for our decision to return home to England for Christmas. Sure we miss our families but minstrel cravings tipped the balance! Plus now we know what to fill the Moz gift basket with when we return 😉

  • Those chocolate sprinkles are called ‘hagelslag’, which is Dutch and is pronounced in basically a combination of hocking noises. Believe it or not, it’s actually a Dutch tradition to send these to new parents when a baby is born – blue and white ones for boys, pink and white ones for girls!

  • Love it! Im not sure if giving someone a box of Couque d’asses would get me out of trouble…..or, get me in more trouble!

  • Jen

    Why are Minstrels so much better than M&Ms??

  • Mint M&Ms??? I also wonder how Canadian Smarties stack up against Minstrels as they are already better than M&Ms. Sigh I miss Canada.

  • Alyson

    If it were my brother, I would walk into the house on Wednesday with an elaborately wrapped tin of spam that I re-labeled as caviar.

  • Well it was a great gift basket! I’ve had the De Ruijter sprinkles before but I don’t really understand them… chocolate sprinkles on your toast?

  • Debra

    I love love the de Ruijter sprinkles on toast. They melt into ooey gooey deliciousness. I found them on a breakfast buffet at a hotel in the Netherlands. They serve such different foods for breakfast in Europe (thinking mostly of baked beans and sauteed tomatoes now). And apparently, I’ve been missing out on Minstrels…mostly because I am single-mindedly focused on eating all the Malteasers I can get my hands on when I go to the UK. Next time I go, I shall have to look for Minstrels, too.

  • Christie

    After your comment about the sub-par quality of M&Ms, I feel like I have to tell you that my old French housemate always has me send her M&Ms whenever I mail things to Paris, because they are outrageously priced in France. In an ironic reversal, an [American] friend of mine orders Crispy M&Ms from Germany on a regular basis, because you can no longer get them her in the States. The grass is always greener…

  • Hehe, I like your brother’s response 🙂

  • I guiltily admit that as I was reading this post I was also eating, and thought there was a typo in the “hjey,” and was just a little triumphant thinking that you’re just as human as I am and not 100% perfect. And then I realized it WAS intentional. Damn you for being perfect. I’ll send a gift basket.

  • Your brother probably just wants you to visit, so he and your sister-in-law can disappear for a nap—and I mean a sleep nap, not a wink, wink nap. “Hi, here’s your nephew. There are minstrels in the refrigerator–next to the bottle of pumped breast milk. We’ll see you when/if we wake up.”

    I somehow completely missed the Minstrels when I was in London a few months ago—perhaps because I was fixated on the All Sorts. I’ve very occasionally found them in the U.S., but they’re inevitably stale.

  • Robyn in Cairo

    My husband and I are spending 18 months volunteering in Cairo. So far I have missed my niece Annabell’s birth and will miss her whole first year and now my other sister is pregnant and I will miss her whole pregnancy, plus the first three months of my first nephew’s life. I’m not sure that the stuffed camels I sent home will make up for it and it completely sucks. My other nieces will be almost three and two when I get home and I will have missed on that amazing part of their lives. Thanks for the gift basket idea – it might make up for being such a crappy Aunty, even if it doesn’t make up for how much I miss them and wish I was there.

    Thanks for your posts Geraldine, they make me smile, especially when I’m missing home because of the travel.

  • LIke M&M’s, but better?????!!! You really grabbed my attention. Lo and behold, there were Minstrels at the expat grocery store, and they were the same price as the fancy, imported U.S. M&M’s. They are indeed fantastic. Definitely much better than the U.K. Nestle Smarties.

    And don’t beat yourself up too bad about not being there for your nephew. At least you’re not like my friend’s husband who showed up late to her egg insemination. He wasn’t even there when his twins were conceived. How many gift baskets is that worth?

  • I know the feeling. I’m Catholic and haven’t met my niece yet, she turns 1 in a few weeks. I’ll get to see her on 26 Dec so I’ll not feel too bad. I hope!

  • Isn’t your brother in California?? Sheesh woman, do not you know that they are foie gras deprived down there? Your poor brother is probably caving in on himself for lack of fat duck liver. And its legal where you live! Get thee to a butcher!!!!

  • Aww! Food truly is the outlet to eradicate guilt. Or to get your boss to like you just for one day. I will tell you they won’t say no to macarons!

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