Instead of Sending Me Gifts This Christmas, Don't. / by Nicole Paulus

Instead of Sending Me Gifts, Don't

Y’all, my "bone to pick with the German postal service" just got bigger. Last week I received a zollamt (receipt) from FedEx for a package I received six months prior. I allegedly owed them a customs fee of 28 euro because they delivered me a birthday package from my sweet mom.

You’ve got to be kidding me!

On a separate occasion, a few months ago, I ordered 100 euro worth of clothes online from a company in the US. When they arrived at my door the delivery guy asked for 45 euro. "45 euro? For what?" He said something which I interpreted as customs. Do you think I paid the man? No, I sent the package back across the pond and had it shipped to my sister’s US address instead (and then just picked it up from her place on my annual homecoming). Let’s not talk about my current carbon footprint, shall we? It’s about the principle! The clothes were literally in front of my face. I could see the stuffed package of MY already-paid clothes under the sweaty arm of this disgruntled delivery guy (I live on the 5th floor, no lift mind you). Before you checkout online there should be warning about the customs fees. ARE YOU SURE YOU NEED THESE ITEMS? LIKE, HOW SURE? 

I Googled to see if this could be true and sure enough there were entire blogs explaining how to avoid these outrageous customs fees when receiving packages “make sure the sender removes any tags or packaging," “make sure to label it as a gift,” “make sure to say the value is less than 100 euro” etc. etc. Ok.  I get you Germany. You don’t want people ordering stuff outside of Europe. Instead, you’d prefer to keep the money in the Union, you know, like a union. Well played. But I really think you’re picking on the wrong dude.

I understand if you want to prevent corporations from outsourcing production to drive costs to the consumer down and increase profit, but I seriously doubt it’s going to have any effect on your prosperity if my mom occasionally sends me a care package with some pajamas and underwear. It doesn’t make any sense and, well, it feels a bit shady. But instead of whining about it any further,  the ridiculous punishment from customs has inspired me to disassociate myself even more from any form of capitalism this holiday season. Seriously. For a culture who has four names for Santa Claus, a plethora of Christmas Markets, and steamy mulled wine, you sure do find a way to ruin the Christmas spirit for expats. Shaking my damn head and wagging my damn finger Germany.

If you were thinking about buying me a present this year, I’d prefer you didn’t, really. Save for your retirement, donate to your favorite organization or better yet, donate to one of my favorites.

I’ve made a commitment in 2018 to let more light, love, and happiness into my life. That means I have to sever ties with the things that don’t serve me any longer, consumerist holidays being one of them. 

Photo by Chris Kristiansen on Unsplash