Sunday, December 07, 2008

Ho, Ho, Hopeless...

It's that time of year when we go through the complex annual kabuki dance of Christmas gift selection, shopping, hiding (the gifts from prying eyes), wrapping, insuring, and mailing. The time of year when Agnes badgers me until I give her my Christmas wish list, which she loses four or five times before just buying me whatever she wants. The time of year when I badger Agnes to give me her Christmas wish list until I just give up and buy her what I think she'll like and I can afford (which, unfortunately, aren't always the same). The time of year when we try to figure out what to get for grandchildren who already have lots of stuff and plenty of doting grandparents.

I love my wife and my children and my grandchildren, and I would do anything for them. But I have to confess to a certain degree of Scrooginess at this time of year.

Because I just don't like a lot of the agony that goes along with Christmas shopping.

I don't like being pressured to buy and give gifts to people I wouldn't otherwise want to give anything to (such as the helpful, self-addressed - but not stamped - tip envelopes the newspaper delivery person leaves in the paper at this time of year...the paper that all-too-often arrives after I've already left for work).

I don't like driving endlessly around parking lots looking for a space within four zip codes of the store, or being stuck behind a person who blocks all traffic for minutes at a time so that he can get that one absolutely perfect and desirable parking place (see my post from September of last year, A Parable About a Parking Space).

I don't like reading about people trampled to death by crowds desperate to get into stores.

I don't like trying to do the complex mental calculus of determining who should get gifts and who shouldn't, how much to spend, how many gifts per person, whether the gift for this one should be better than, equivalent to, or less than the gift for that one, etc, etc.

The whole gift thing has gotten out of hand.

When Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior arrived in Bethlehem with their gifts for the Christ child, little did they know what they were starting. They arrived, pure of heart, guided by a single pre-GPS star, with simple gifts to honor a newborn king. They didn't worry about the holiday hours at Wal-Mart, how long UPS would need to deliver the gifts, or whether there'd be a place to park their camels while they shopped (in the Camelot, ha, ha?).

Nowadays the holiday season starts right after the fourth of July, and on December 26th the stores all put up their displays of summer beachwear. Santa glides over the snowy hills on the floating heads of his Norelco razor and quaffs Coca-Cola, and parents scramble desperately to obtain this year's must-have toy.

It's enough to bring out the seasonal curmudgeon buried under my normally cheerful and placid exterior.

But in the end it all comes down to the bright eyes and happy smiles on the faces of the children and grandchildren, and somehow everything else fades to insignificance. And so I scratch my head and search for just the right gifts for the world's most intelligent and adorable grandchildren, try to surprise Agnes with something she'll like and I can afford...

...and recycle that envelope from the newspaper delivery person.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Mike said...

"Because I just don't like a lot of the agony that goes along with Christmas shopping."

Start a new movement to to move Christmas back to October where it belongs. If you remember your Christian history it was moved to late December so people would have something to party about in the winter.

Or better yet, make it a floating holiday that isn't announced until a week before it happens. Think about the friendly conversation amongst the christian communities about when THAT date should be each year.

michelle said...

ha. this is why i don't go to a mall on weekends after thanksgiving!

shop online.... best invention ever!!!

Melissa B. said...

My Mom had a Christmas tradition of giving my Hubs a nice wool sweater every year. He still has them all, and the kids can always tell when he's wearing one gifted by Grandma. Unfortunately, she's not around anymore, and no one else quite has the good taste that she did! BTW, don't forget Sx3 today. Please stop by if you have a minute!

KKTSews said...

Mike: I think the move to Dec was to coincide with pre-Christian winter solstice celebration the pagans were already used to.

Bill: You fogot my favorite pet peeve--the arrival in Oct of the Christmas music on the radio stations. Seriously--one local station started it before Halloween! I like the moderation, but NOT BEFORE THANKSGIVING!
Thanks for the outlet. I feel better.

John said...


anOCgirl said...

i'm with michelle on this one. shop online. i'm nearly done with my christmas shopping and i have yet to step in a mall. it's the best thing since sliced bread!

and seriously, how great is that sliced bread? all perfectly portioned for sandwich making? yum!

fiona said...

Winter Solstice is correct. We Scots invented christmas...go Santie McClaus!

TWINKIE said...

The origin of Christmas is sooooo not what it is today! LOL I feel bah- humbuggish more and more each year. Although like you said, the children and the memories we adults are creating for them is a just reward!