‘Tis the Season of Obligation, and I hate it.
If you’re feeling full of Christmas cheer and good will to all men, look away now, because reading this will only make you feel sad, angry, or insulted. Possible all three. I mean it. Really. Stop reading.
I love giving presents, but I hate giving them because the calendar says I must. I love my friends and family, but I hate having a massive list that we must methodically and mechanically run down to see that everyone receives at item appropriate to their status and closeness. And because everyone is buying presents all at the same time, I hate having to coordinate to ensure that the unwanted trinkets I plan to buy won’t clash with someone else’s purchase.
Likewise, I don’t care about getting presents for Christmas any more. I have everything I want already, and I would far rather you got me nothing than that you bought me something I don’t need and will never use just because you feel you have to. In fact, you know what’s the greatest gift you could get me next year? To tell me that you haven’t bought me anything. I would truly appreciate knowing that I have saved you that small measure of hassle, and that your Chistmas workload has been lightened just that little bit.
You think I’m kidding? You think I couldn’t possibly mean it? You think it’s just because the preparations for this Christmas have been getting me down? Absolutely not. I am being completely honest. Stop. Giving. Me. Shit.
(And please don’t give a charitable donation instead of getting me a gift. That’s just as bad. Give to a charity because you want to give to a charity, not because you feel some residual obligation to me. Charities need our money all year round.)
I have a wish list, and I hate not being able to buy anything from it in November or December, just because someone might selected something from it already. As of 2006, the wish list is going away.
If you really want to get me something, get something for ME–not for Christmas. If you have some music you particularly like, and you want to share it with me, send me a CD in the middle of March, out of the blue. If you’re browsing through the Autumn sales and see a T-shirt you think would suit me, give it to me in September. Show that it’s me you’re thinking about, not just another item on your shopping list.
I’m having a tough time keeping up appearances for the kids, and trying to keep things magical for them. I don’t want my grumpiness to ruin their pleasure. But equally, I don’t want them to grow up into Christmas Want-monsters. The American Thanksgiving tradition seems to me a much better model for a mid-winter holiday: the absence of gifts keeps things focused on the family, and the togetherness. There’s only so much preparation you can do for a big meal, and the shops don’t play psychosis-inducing festive music for two months solid leading up to it. (Honestly, the next time I hear “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” someone is going to get their nose bitten off.)
Finally, anyone who wants to call me a “Scrooge” can just fuck off. Get an original thought once in a while, you sheep.