Silver bells, mistletoe, spiked egg nog, the crisp scent of fresh pine, the chance to see the entire extended family together (arguing or not, it is a beautiful thing)… Those are a few highlights, but December is one of those months where everything is shadowed by an overarching theme of false holiday cheer, tacky and obnoxious tunes, gaudy lights, annoying shoppers, and crazy sales.
I have a firm anti-Christmas and anti-Birthday gift policy among my friends. We do not exchange gifts during these times. Birthday’s are for parties and fun events. Therefore any money that would go to a gift goes to making that event snazzier and more elaborate. This may include, but is not limited to purchasing a ridiculous sequin dress, buying enough alcohol to kill a herd of elephants, or splurging at a chichi restaurant with cloth tablecloths and silver knives.
In regards to the holiday season, we all buy gifts for family members, splurging on Kindle’s, cameras and fancy watches to appease their good taste. This leaves little in the budget left for close friends. Credit cards end up maxed out with gifts, travel expenses and food. Therefore, we usually agree to not exchange gifts in order to make our hectic lives a little bit simpler during this time of year.
The main reason for my aversion to the holiday shopping: obligation ruins a gift. Around the holidays people buy gifts for each other to show their love, respect and appreciation for them. This is a lovely sentimental aspect that has been perverted by commercial holiday nonsense and varying senses of obligation. By obligation, I refer to the feeling someone has when they know that another individual has purchased a gift for them and therefore they feel as though they have to purchase one in return to make the gift transaction fair. This is a ludicrous notion. As well as someone receiving a gift and having not provided one in return, feeling a sense of guilt. It also occurs when someone gives a gift without receiving one in return and gets peeved at the lack of courtesy.
I lavish in the random, the unwarranted, and the surprise. A trip to an exotic island or a new country is a great opportunity to pick up a little trinket, clothing or cultural item for a friend or family member. Checking out a fall festival or summer arts fair is another great time to grab some handmade art that reminds you of a certain someone. It is these moments where you truly, in the moment, are reminded of that person. The chosen gift is personal and invokes their individuality without being rushed, forced or wrapped in tacky reindeer paper. These types of gifts are unique, appreciated more, and there is no sense of obligation involved.
Another note on the holiday season, Christmas cards are a waste of money, trees and end up thrown out in under a week. Unless a baby picture is tucked in that little envelope with the card, pick up the phone and speak to your family and friends. Wish them a warm holiday and lots of cheer. I have received cards from people I have not spoken to in months. In these cases, I would prefer a phone call and a chance to catch up. In regards to people I see everyday, just wish me a happy holiday over coffee. Or, plan a big group dinner sometime before the holiday. Do something together or at least be personable over the phone.
I swear I am not a Grinch. Happy Holidays!