Friday, December 9, 2011
I've bit my tongue on this one for a few weeks now, mostly because I've been incredibly busy and haven't had time to properly write it out. But I haven't gotten over being ashamed of my fellow Americans. I watched, with a profound sense of disquiet in my soul, as my compatriots left their still warm turkey carcasses on Thanksgiving, ditched their sleeping families, and camped out to shop for Christmas presents. They jostled and punched each other, spit epithets with great vitriolic hostility, and yes, even pepper sprayed other shoppers to get what they wanted. To get what they wanted to give as a gift, no less! I caught a news report wherein a prepubescent child was interviewed. He said he was at the store to buy an Xbox, had one in his hand, and some adult walked by and snatched it from him.
For shame. For everlasting fucking shame. Who are you people?! I'll tell you who you are. You are people from all walks of life, varying religious and spiritual beliefs (including the one that worships a baby that was born on... wait... what? Christmas!). You are people with children, cousins, parents - you are family people. You're nobody special. You're some Schmoe who's brain is defective enough to think that this kind of behavior is acceptable because you're doing it in the spirit of... (*shakes head*)... giving.
Congratulations. You make the Borjias look like Mouseketeers.
It astounds me that I, an atheist, seem to have more Christmas spirit than the average person. Considering that the bulk of my profit comes from Christmas card sales, I have to "get my elf on" earlier than is warranted. I really should start in July, but I find it impossible to design a Christmas card when it's 75 degrees and sunny. So, I wait until the cooler, grayer days of September when my mad dash begins in earnest. However, as Dickens so aptly proclaimed, I keep Christmas in my heart all year long.
Think about it. Do you remember the gifts you received as a kid? All of them? No. The only one I remember was the Easy-bake Oven I got when I was six. My best Christmas memories are memories of ice skating in our back yard, or going to my Aunt's house, gathering around the piano, and singing Christmas carols.
I'm not a Grinch. I'm not anti-gift. I'm just saying, put aside the ridiculous spending and frantic behaviors and give gifts that count. Turn off the TV, the computer, the cell phone. Pop some popcorn and spend time reading a book to your children, or playing Parcheesi. They'll remember that long after they've forgotten what an Xbox is. Will your geriatric parent really care about yet another pair of slippers? No. But they'll be delighted if you take them to lunch, or for a stroll through some botanical gardens or some such thing. Pour your mate some delicious beverage, turn the lights down low, and rub his or her feet. The gift of your time is what will last.
Maybe you think I'm being overly idealistic but I don't concur. I believe that what we give of ourselves is what matters most. Always in all ways.
As Train sang, "In a world of what we want is only what we want until it's ours..." It's about presence, not presents.