Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dear God, How Many Shopping Days Left?

So the perfect presents for my non-biological sister Kate have not yet arrived. Celebration with my family happens on Sunday. I realize that means they have time yet, but I just have a bad feeling about it. The boy and I aren't even bothering with pretense: I told him I wanted money towards the camera I'm buying myself, he said he didn't want anything but would accept Wii games if that made it easier. We're going in together for both gifts for our parents, and my dad still whined on the phone about how he finally knew what he wanted. Too late, sucker. Meanwhile, devoted partner found buying Wii games easy enough, but frankly shopping for my father, in particular, is a nasty chore. And while my mother will, indeed take anything, it's nicer when it's something she'll remotely use.

Fast forward to devoted partner's family. Year in and year out I buy father-in-law books on history. I find this boring. Mother-in-law once asked for 20 pairs of Hanes knee-highs and this year sister-in-law has asked for an assortment of 5 dollar street pashminas.

Is it possible that gift giving among people who are blessed with a decent standard of living is, dare I say it, a bit ridiculous?

Sure, there's stuff I want. A really expensive camera is one thing. And I'm sure there are some pricey things everyone on the list could do with. My brother has been musing over wine storage solutions since he bought his place; devoted partner and I are debating dive watches; and I'm sure the other people in our lives have big ticket items on their wishlists as well. But since none of us is going to pony up that kind of money for the others, what is the true use of all of this gift giving?

It's not that I don't like getting things people like; what I mind is the pressure. Of the gifts I have purchased this year, only one feels good. Now I just have to hope the recipient likes it as much as I hope. The rest are merely trinkets designed to let the people in my life know I thought about them. Except that half of them know what they're getting anyway.

Should we just throw in the towel and start giving gifts to charity? It feels less festive to celebrate without gift exchange, but I'm starting to feel rather jaded about the whole thing. I simply don't need trinkets. And when I do feel the urge for something, for better or worse, I generally just buy it.

Next Christmas will be different in at least one respect. We are planning to not be here for it. My goddaughter will be 3 1/2 and I would like to spend the holiday with her when she is old enough to have a good time with it. So that should be a change. But that's one year out of the rest of our lives.

And I like the holidays. I am not one of those grinch types. We got our tree on Monday and I love looking at it. I sprung for the ridiculously expensive, yet hypnotically metallic, Chanukah candles at Whole Foods, and we're batting about .600 on nights we've lit them. But the gift part keeps getting more difficult and I seem to be among the only people willing to dispense with it.

Now I must return to the gift hunt. Wish me luck!

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