So here we are.
Ah, it’s that time of year. The time of year when the world is filled with festive joy and the spirit of giving.
It’s also the time of year when jackasses blog about crappy gifts you better not give to anyone, especially them.
Okay. I get it. We live in a freakish time, where How the Grinch Stole Christmas still airs, telling us about how Christmas doesn’t come from a store, only to get interrupted by that horrible music that reminds us to make it a Lexus December to Remember. And it seems like every product, no matter how mundane, attempts to become repositioned as a possible Christmas present, from toothbrushes to lottery tickets. At the same time, some magazines suggest diamond earrings as perfect “stocking stuffers.” And the whole world is split right down the middle on the concept of gift cards; half calling them thoughtful, the other half consider them gauche. It’s insane and inane, and I get that. I do.
I also get how disappointing a bad gift can be. But it’s a gift. It’s something you didn’t have before. And even if it’s something really lousy, like electric scissors (which yes, I have unwrapped), you say thank you, swig your nog and move on with your life.
But I recently read a blog post about 5 of the stupidest gifts to receive, and while it irked me a little to see iPods on that list (even if you have one, iPods break or get upgraded constantly), the one that really got to me was “anything intangible.” This included charity.
Yes, the author made it clear that he didn’t want to get a star named after him, or have an animal adopted for him. His words: Don’t you know Christmas is about stuff?
I guess it’s a good thing that this guy isn’t the chick in The Gift of the Magi, or we’d see comments like this:
DellaPrincess: Gah! Got a freaking hair comb. A comb. Can you believe it? Good thing I decided not to sell my hair to get Mister Della a watch chain, because apparently the dumbass hocked his watch. Cheap bastard.
See, with very few exceptions, charity and candy have recently become my two go-to gifts. There are reasons for this. I’d love to give music or movies, but it’s impossible to know what people already have, and since the only way to play it safe is with the divisive gift card, I’ve given up on that. Books are the same story.
This is where candy comes in. Candy is delicious, especially if it’s good candy, and even if people already have it, they don’t mind having some more. And if for some reason they don't like it, they can easily share it with others. You do have to be careful with good candy, however, if you are giving on a budget. I was in a show where the cast was given excellent chocolates on opening night, but the understudies were given much smaller boxes... with just one piece inside. Ouch.
Apart from all that, though, I know that most of the people I’m giving to have a lot of stuff, just as I have a lot of stuff. It’s hard to find stuff that people who have a lot of stuff are in need of, or don’t already have. At the same time, there are a lot of people who have nothing. Not no stuff, I mean nothing. And while I like receiving candy, I know I’d prefer seeing someone who has nothing get a little bit of joy much more than seeing my ass just get wider. That's a win-win for all.
Maybe it comes from age, or seeing my living space shrink from trying to cram so much lovely crap into it, but I’m sort of done with stuff. Sure, I still consume plenty (my skin now requires an arsenal of products, and I do have a wide selection of mary jane pumps), but I’m not as charmed by meaningless and random trinkets as I once was, especially when I see what’s going on with the rest of the country and the world. (The key words are meaningless and random, mind you.)
I guess there was a time, back in childhood, when Christmas was indeed about stuff. But if everyday capitalism and consumerism is already about stuff, then what is it, exactly, that makes Christmas special?
Of course, this is just me. Live your life the way you like. But at the very least, try to live it with grace and gratitude.
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.