Christmas Shopping, Ship Me Out.
I offered to help a friend with her Christmas party this year, catering/food/bar stuff. Nothing too big, right? (BAAAAAAAAHHHHNK, sorry, that’s the wrong answer.) Somewhere in my brain, the words “Christmas” and “party” simply didn’t compute into the holiday season.
I generally like holidays, just not this one. Perhaps the reason I dislike Christmas is that it’s the one time of year I am absolutely obligated to spend it with family. Or maybe, it’s the shoppers. I enjoy shopping and supporting the economy as much as the next guy, but really. Does your father-in-law *really* need that new nose-hair trimmer enough to justify holding up the entire buggy traffic of the entire health and beauty section? Maybe, it’s the entire ‘happy holidays’ versus ‘Merry Christmas debacle that comes up every friggin year. (Just for the two of you still read my blog and are sensitive to these things, xmas comes from the Greek spelling of Christ, which begins with an X. Thus “xmas” isn’t ‘taking the Christ out of Christmas.)
Then there’s the whole superficial aspect of it. We feel like we *have* to buy everyone we know the useless shit that Wal-Mart manages to pile on every endcap, every square centimeter of shelving, every aisle. We *demand* that we buy them ‘something’. These gifts are for people that, typically, fall into two categories: those about whom we care deeply and those about whom we couldn’t care less. Of course the irony of this situation is that those in the first group always lose out to those in the second.
Why is it we feel the need to purchase crap in the first place? And that’s usually what we purchase: crap. Even for the really important people. Parents, siblings, wives, girlfriends, children. Usually, we’re too busy worrying about everything we have to do for the people we *shouldn’t* care about pleasing and thus fail to please those we do care about pleasing.
Just a few days ago, I was assisting a friend in Christmas shopping for a loved one. While standing over the case of items for sale, we began a discussion about which of the two possible items (both of which, combined, were less than the friend’s self-imposed spending limit). Finally, I made the most logical suggestion.
“Get them both.”
“I can’t do that. That’s two gifts when I really only have to buy one,” she says.
“It’s not like you’re spending any more money,” I say.
“Well, I could get one for Christmas and one for his birthday in February,” she says.
I groan. This makes her upset enough to get personal. “Hey. I’m not you. I like to watch my money.”
Why? Does it do tricks? Maybe I should watch your money too.
Maybe that’s my fundamental breakdown with the holidays. It’s all about the coin. How much did you spend on so-and-so. Did they spend more than you. What happened to genuine fellowship and caring? When did the Holiday Season morph into a season spent shopping rather than a season spent *with* those for whom you now shop? Are we really so callous as to think our girlfriends won’t love us as much if we don’t buy them the $20 gold earrings? (And let’s pray to God that she isn’t allergic to the posts — which aren’t surgical steel.)
Perhaps I’m unhappy with the holidays because I’m not one of those people who can spend the money. I have been that person before. Presents for everyone, even the Dirty Uncle Sal. But even then, I still felt all of these things. Money you can make more of. Happiness, though, is an art you have to practice to master. Practice a lot.
That’s what gets me. I’m a fairly happy person and everyone around me is completely and utterly unhappy. “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” or “Happy Christmahanakwanzikas” or whatever debate you wish to have is irrelevant — especially if all you can do is argue about what to say to one another when passing in the halls at work. Yet here we are, talking about “taking Christ out of ‘xmas’ (see above). I actually heard a conversation about how secular Christmas has become — between two women fawning over a wire bin full of Santa Clauses and Penguin ornaments. “I can’t believe that they say ‘happy holidays’ now,” one of the women said with disdain. Her friend, apparently in agreement, started venting about the people in the store being pushy — including a moment where she elbowed a twelve-year-old out of her way, adding a terse “Excuse you.” Turning back to her friend, she sighed. “See what I mean?”
How about this for Christmas: let’s give everyone a break? Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza. Chinese New Year? Who gives a flip! To the bitches at the bin, and everyone else in the world: Tis the season to be jolly. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.