Oh, you know the drill: you go to work, and everyone bitches about the crowds, and the traffic, and the horrendous, never ending Christmas shopping, and whines about “why in the hell are we doing this anyways?!”. And then, right as they clock out, and head home, they tell you they’re heading for the mall, or some kind of random store where they have to either “finish Christmas shopping” or “ pick up a few things” or “loose ends” or “wrapping paper” or cards they forgot to send in the first round! But come tomorrow, they will remind you, again, over coffee, that they hate the crowds, and … etc… and “Christmas is not about all this commercialism anyways”… And all you can do not to fall over laughing is to roll your eyes and say “oh, yeah, sure”… and sigh.
Sure, people, tell yourselves THAT and then go out into the big world of traffic and buy some more, add some more to the credit card balance, why don’tcha?!
It is SO about buying the crap! And you know it, and better stop denying it, because it’s becoming old! Unless you want your family to think you’re a Scrooge, or your co-workers to think you’re lame, and don’t want to “participate” in the Office Christmas exchange, and your aunt Millie think you hate her, when she’s already dealing with senility and paranoia in the old people’s home, assisted living nonetheless, and your children to run away from home because they’re the only kids on the block without a tree, and a lighted house, and without any bragging rights the first day in school after Christmas break about “what they got” or “what Santa brought them”, depending on the age! Sure, go ahead! Buy nothing! And see how THAT feels! You think you’re miserable now, huh?! Try buying nothing to no one for Christmas, and see how that feels, then!
Truth is: yes, it is about the buying! For one reason or another, we buy. We show love, or we show off through buying. Whatever our reason, however much conscious or less conscious that reason is, we buy… It’s how we express … love, or care, or … trying to make up for time lost, or just express one-upmanship! “Oh, you think you’ve been good to me all year, Mr. Boss! Wait till Christmas, till I give you a present to make you indebted to ME for the rest of your life, or career, for that matter”.
And so, we’re caught in the rollercoaster, and we’re in traffic, yawning at the end of a busy day, to satisfy the needs, of ours more than theirs, and to buy, to catch up, and to please! Yeah, because see, Christmas is “pleasing everyone” time! We need to see smiles, and happy faces, and in our culture, that’s done by accumulation of “stuff”!
I, for instance, buy because: I live far away from home and I miss (physically) everyone’s birthdays and Easters, and name days (yes, we have name days in my culture!); so I have to compensate at Christmas, when I can say “thanks for being my family and loving me unconditionally, and without restrictions all year round and I am sorry I can’t be there for Christmas either, because here in America, where I live, the employers are stingy with the vacation time”; and “happy birthday and Happy Easter, too”; “and name day” ; I buy because I want to say “thank you” to my friends for just being my friends, and not giving up on me throughout the years; I buy because that’s one time of the year when I do something extra-nice for my pets, like buying them a toy, and an extra snack they’re not allowed to have year-round, for dietary restrictions; I buy because I know just exactly who will buy for me, for whatever reason, and I don’t want to owe anything to anyone! So I have to “match them”(and we ALL do that, don’t freakin’ deny it!!!!!!!!!!!); I buy because it’s what’s expected! If they invite you over for Christmas dinner they “expect” at least a bottle of wine, if not something not completely idiotic they can send as an example to the “completely useless Christmas gifts” column of the local paper the day after Christmas!
So, we buy. And Christmas is so about the buying! Yes, maybe in the old ages, when the money was scarce, and wars plenty, and the people would celebrate Christmas by just having wood for the fire for a change and a meat-full meal, in those times maybe it was not about the buying of totally useless crap; maybe then, it was about the getting together, the warmth in the house, the caroling kids at the window, and about the “white Christmas” outside! But times have changed, and people, too! And, yes, we “evolved” (Gosh, that sounds like an oxymoron!) into these … very shallow creatures that think a gift certificate to “Pier 1” will make a difference, but it’s the price we pay for being the 21st century women and men! We are social creatures, and it’s what’s “expected” of us, socially!
And truth be told: we live, by God, in the most wonderful country in the world, where “returns” rule as kings! You can return pretty much anything and get anything else we can possibly need in any store! If you can’t find anything you DO need at “Barnes and Noble”, “Walmart”, “Sams”, “Linens’n’Things”, “Bed, Bath, and Beyond”, “Bath and Bodyworks”, “Victoria’s Secret” and any other store your friends and relatives shopped for you (but failed to get “exactly” what you needed indeed), then you’re just a picky bastard –it’s ALL I can say!
And c’mon now, you SO needed that cork screw you never would buy for yourself, and that book on gift giving and that blue necklace that surely goes with your jeans, even if you hate blue! You never dreamed of buying these for yourselves, so go ahead and enjoy them now, that you got them from uncle Willy and Grandma Bertha, and they’re free!
And also: you gotta be honest. At the end of the whole Christmas craze, you do SO expect others to remember YOU! You do expect cards in the mail, with baited breath to see just to whom you were important or at least worth mentioning this year! If you don’t expect at least that, than I feel really, really sorry for you: that is truly the sign of a really sad person and existence, excuse my judgment!
Sure, it’s a free country. Do what tickles you, and defy convention and what “society” expects! And I hope you can sleep at night! If not from what your family, friends and co-workers will say, at least from what your kids will cry about. And don’t try to deny it: your conscience will suffer too… Because it’s a different time we live in. Yes, we think of the old times, when commercialism was not the rule of the day, and yes, we regret we weren’t born then, to be able to appreciate “the simple things”! Yes, we realize the shallowness of the now! But we subscribe to it, one religious year after another, while we curse the world, stuck in traffic, or trying to catch a parking spot at Walmart and also at the Mall! Because the times of now are not “so simple” anymore. Trust me, though: it could be worse! You could be living during Communism where it was illegal to celebrate Christmas, and where you could not even allow yourself to think out loud that there was such a Holiday as Christmas at all, for fear of being thrown in jail for the rest of your life, and never seeing your friends and family! So, enjoy the nameless, meaningless gifts and rejoice! Try to find meaning and truthful smiles in everything you give! It’s OK! It’s awaited and appreciated, one way or another!
I hope everyone is having the best time of the year yet! Happy Holidays to all!