I’m sorry to do this, but it has been nagging at me for a month; I MUST have a tiny rant about Christmas. My parents are going to cry, half of you are going to hate me, but I have to do it.
Christmas Day circa 1997: Christmas was always fun as a kid. I didn’t have any brothers or sisters though, so it wasn’t ever this mad dash at 4 am with 3 other under 10′s to demolish the presents in under 5 minutes, eat all of the peanut butter santas and loll around in an orgasmic chocolate/presents haze for the rest of the day. Christmas was great, but that’s about it. I loved my stocking presents, sitting around under the tree (I remember the christmas tree falling on me one year) but besides that it wasn’t a huge event in my life. Christmas wasn’t my favorite holiday (Halloween, definitely Halloween) but I liked it and enjoyed it.
Christmas Day circa now: I hate it. It has turned into such a stressful event for me that I am already scheduling what island I am going to go to for 2011 and I will leave on December 23.
Ok, ok, I’ll soften the rant a bit. I’ll start with what I love about Christmas first, so that you don’t think I’m completely bereft of a soul. I love spending time with the fam; since I’m an only child seeing my cousins is great because they’re the closest things I have to brothers and sisters. I love relaxing at my mom’s house; I’m an excercise fanatic and always have sore muscles and since I dont really like to use my tub in NYC that much, it means that when I get home I get to soak my muscles in the tub, drink some tea with mom and have engaging conversations. I love to see my grandparents- all four of them are still kicking ass and taking names and they crack me up and inspire me immensely. I love the food- there are always sweet potatos, turkey, amazing apple pie, you name it we got it. In short- I LOVE to spend time with my family, they crack me up, inspire me and make me feel grounded and loved.
Now to the good stuff. The nitty gritty.
I HATE buying presents. I feel like it is the most senseless ritual in the entire world and quite frankly is in DIRECT opposition to everything that I (and you) am trying to accomplish financially. Let me break down for you the sequence of events that inevitably occurs.
1. You scour the aisles for wrapping paper, which ends up costing you 5.99$ a ROLL at CVS (if your neighborhood dollar store has sold out- which of course they HAVE because who would prefer 5.99 wrapping paper over 1$ wrapping paper? Not this chick). (Sidenote: the dollar store is also out of tape. A disgruntled employee working on Xmas eve tells you this with palpable enthusiasm- she enjoys making you miserable- and she points at the double sided tape as an alternative, the only tape they have left. So you buy it. You wrap all your presents in it. To be continued…)
2. You search for the first practical yet scintillating goodie that you hope the recipient will both cherish AND use every single day.
3. You begin the anxious hunt for the next 24 gifts that you need to buy for the 24 people in your life who’ve made the “gift cut”. You furiously check things off your list (if not once, then twice) and go home to wrap these useful yet fascinating (I mean honestly, when have those two words ever described the same thing?) tokens of your love in your 5.99 wrapping paper.
4. You collapse in exhaustion.
5. You nervously hand the recipient their present (whose wrapping paper has been partially destroyed when you stacked the presents on top of each other and ended up having to rip them apart because of the double sided tape…)
5. You watch the recipient riiiiiiippppp whats left of the the preciously procured paper apart and litter it about the inevitably TINY living room that all 24 people are sharing to wrap presents in.
6.. You watch their face fall. They either A) Already have the present or B) Think its a piece of shi* and wonder why you would ever think they would like it.
7. You disappointedly stuff the decimated 5.99-a-roll-wrapping paper into a plastic bag (the CVS bag, the bag that the wrapping paper you bought came in) and take it out to the garbage, slipping and falling on the ice in the driveway landing on your buttocks (forrest gump anyone?).
7. You stare up at the sky. You wonder what it all means.
I just dont get it. Why are we dedicated to this ritual and this way of life that virtually requires us to consume things? And please don’t get me wrong, I’m really not trying to preach or criticize anyones habits or preferences but this ritual just doesn’t work for me and I feel like there’s no way out. If I don’t buy people presents, I look like a bad person. If I do, I feel bad.
Why can’t Christmas JUST be about spending time with family and friends, creating memories and drinking good wine? Why does it have to include this ferocious sprint to the mall ? I spent about 300$ this year on XMAS gifts and (that was me being cheap)- and I got about 300$ in gift cards/money. So really, we all would have been better off saving 250$ (in a money market emergency account:), setting aside 50$ each for an amazing dinner somewhere together and calling it a night.
Why does how much I give you = how much I love you?