Christmas misgivings (redux)

I’m pretty sick of the whole Christmas thing, mainly the gift-exchange aspect. I won’t go into the commercialization, the religious bits, or the rest of it here. Here’s the summary:

When I was young, gifts were just “loot”. This has little to do with the way my parents raised me — it’s a cultural thing. People would give me stuff, and anything I didn’t want got shoved into the back of the closet. I appreciated the gifts, sure, but not as gifts. I appreciated them as free stuff.

As I’ve gotten older, the appeal of stuff has lessened somewhat. Much more of my life is spent on the computer or online, and the material possessions clutter up my life in way that digital possessions don’t. They are mainly a nuisance, except for a few choice things, like my camera and my books (I still prefer paper over pixels). When there was a recent (false) fire alarm at my dorm, the only thing I grabbed for was my computer. Everything else was secondary.

I was talking with Cory (a close friend of mine) this Chirstmas Eve. He shares some of my sentiments in the matter, and we discussed the social burden of gift-giving. Friends and especially family expect gifts, and if they receive none, they wonder what is wrong, or feel hurt. So gifts are “mandatory” in a social sense, even if the giver has no idea what to give. Quote from Cory: “I’d prefer to give people things when it feels right — not when the calender tells me to.”

Frankly, I have no clue what most people want. Sure, they might enjoy a new set of colored pencils, or a pretty picture frame, but what are the chances that the gift is actually meaningful, something that they don’t simply want in a possessive sense? I don’t like the guessing game. It stresses me out, and I have a hard time enjoying the gifts I receive.

Most people don’t really know what I want either, except sometimes for the people closest to me. It isn’t their fault. I really don’t want much. On my 18th birthday, for example, I decided that I only wanted edible presents. No clutter, every bit appreciated. But nowadays I have plenty of snacks lying around.

Now, I’m no Scrooge. I don’t want to deny others their Christmas experiences, I just want to modify my own. In the ideal Christmas, I wouldn’t give or receive material or monetary goods — I’d give and receive human contact.

That’s right — all I want for Christmas is some good ol’ communication. I’m cool with telephone, snailmail, email, and webjournals, and blogs — whatever floats your boat (I prefer email, but I’ll do any of those). It means more to me to talk with you than most gifts ever will.

Responses: 2 so far Feed icon

  1. Cory Capron says:

    Actually I think it was "I'd prefer to give people..."

    Either way it's more an ideal for me than a practice.


  2. Tim McCormack says:

    Cory: Corrected.

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