Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas vs The Shopping Season

It was funny to hear Chris say it, even if it was true.

"You know, now that I don't have to go shopping for anyone, or worry about how I'm going to pay for things or anything, Christmas seems a lot more like - well - Christmas."

I'm not sure whether this is the fourth or fifth Christmas that our family has not done the whole "bury each other in gifts so we can prove to each other that we care" extravaganza. Now that Chris is part of the family, he is under the same "vow of poverty." And at first, it was a little rough - mostly because sister Sue blew it last year in his honor. But now that we really, really have him convinced that there will be NO gift-giving - period - he's a changed man.

You see, last year, he spent the month of December trying to get ready to close on his house's sale, and packing to move up here, and budgeting "tight" to save as much money as he could before he got a job up here. So he made me promise that "this year was going to be different."

And it is. The tree and decorations (which have been in storage since I packed them up for seminary after Christmas 2002) are up, and they are beautiful. The outside lights are up and on, and while it's not exactly a Christmas Vacation display, it's clear to see which apartment is ours from two blocks away. The Christmas music, from Steven Curtis Chapman to Wayne Watson to Vince Guaraldi to Eugene Ormandy's Messiah, are on the ol' iTunes loop. And our days and nights are focused on the Christ child to come, and the Star who's arrival is pending in the East, and not on what's hot on people's shopping list.

And it's good.

People at work are astonished - "how are you ever going to get your shopping done with your work schedule the way it is?" is the question of the month. When they hear that "I simply don't have any shopping to do - we aren't exchanging gifts," I'm often viewed as if the Grinch had stomped his way across our lives. One person, in fact, had the nerve to say, "How are we EVER going to have an economic recovery if people keep thinking like YOU are, you selfish bastard?"

I wanted to tell him to sit down and watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. And listen carefully. But I simply told him, "It's not up to me, today."

Thank God.


Anonymous said...

Wow! I would love to get my family into forgoing gifts. I could very easily give it all a miss this year.

Michael said...

A couple of Christmases back, I suggested that my family (of origin) cut down on the gift-giving. It did have something to do with my real financial limits, but it also seemed an unnecessary exercise in frustration for everyone. We agreed that it would be only "parents to and from their own children (and grandchildren)", but we do not all seem to be on the same page still. But at least I have managed to cut way down.

Next year, however, I will most likely have at least three new great-nieces/nephews -- and young children are kind of what Christmas is about for me. So I will probably (for sure!) be buying small things for the little people for a while into the future, anyway.

Meanwhile, I didn't get the economy into this situation, and so I don't think it is up to me to get it out by buying (literally) into the worst aspects of the system.

And I guess I am a selfish whatever. Happy Pride, anyway!

(In a blog conversation with someone about the appropriate greeting for this time of year, I thought maybe I would just wish everyone a Happy Pride! and let them make of it what they will.

brother said...

Steve: Thanks for a fantastic, Stop Everything Else And Read This post that's so important in the middle of the holiday insanity.

AND .. happy sober birthday. I don't know you personally, and yet I know you absolutely. I marked 12.5 years sober at Thanksgiving time, and your blog is a significant tool in my toolbox of sobriety.

THANKS again .. and Merry Christmas to you.

BentonQuest said...

Sounds like a great idea to me! I like giving gifts because I want to not because I have to.