Friday, November 19, 2010


I like holidays. I'm not one of those bah humbug people who wants to abolish Christmas, even though I have no religion at all. I am not worried about the pound or two that I will gain eating yummy food. In fact, I believe that the weight gain means that I had a good time during the season. I will never eat a snack before going to a holiday party so that I won't eat so much at the buffet. What's the point of that? That doesn't mean that you get to position yourself in front of the cookies, making sure that no one else gets any of them. But, c'mon folks, it's not the pound or two that you gain over the holidays that makes you fat. Really.

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. I love the smell of the roasting turkey, the stuffing cooked in the bird (cooked on the side is never as good), the mashed potatoes, the green bean casserole (something J refuses to cook or eat), the gravy, the shrimp in aspic that my mother made almost every year. There was the American brilliant glass relish tray with carrots and celery, and the American brilliant glass bowl with the cranberry jelly. Until I was 30 I had three helpings of everything--it was a standing joke that everyone had to sit around waiting for me to finish. And I didn't mind skipping dessert, as I only moderately like pumpkin pie and can't stand mincemeat. Imagine J's surprise this year when I said that I'd rather have crab for Thanksgiving. I'll do the turkey for Christmas. I guess it's because I now use the relish tray to hold my jewelry.

But as for Christmas...I wish we could just have the food, the decorations and the music, as well as gifts for children, and skip the rest of the purposeless gift-giving. I hate it when someone I barely know buys me something that costs $10. I'm an adult now and, if there's something out there that I want that costs $10, I've probably already bought it. So what the giver has really done is picked up something I probably don't want, wrapped it up and presented it to me in expectation that I will reciprocate. Both of the gifts are likely to be saved for the appalling custom of "regifting" or set out for charity collection. Why not just go out for a meal together, or exchange cards--anything but purchasing the useless junk that multiplies exponentially at this time of year. And it's not the thought that counts--what's clear is that someone picked it up at the drug store or the grocery store because she felt that she had to give something, anything.

And it's not because I'm cheap. I'd rather spend more than $10 having lunch or dinner with someone than exchange this stuff. And given that most people have limited resources these days, I'd rather, in fact, that people spend the money on their kids. Take the $50 or $100 that you're spending on these junk gifts and buy your kids something they really want. Please.

Update: I asked for Nightmare Before Christmas for my Christmas viewing this year. J thinks I've gone bonkers--"I wouldn't think you'd want a strange movie."

Update 2: An economist has actually written a book on the subject of Christmas gift-giving. He advocates giving gift cards to the recipient's favorite store, thus allowing the recipient to purchase what she wants. One problem with this: I've noticed from my online shopping that much of the good stuff is already gone and that people who want to redeem the cards right after Christmas will face slim pickings. This means that the cards will end up in a drawer and be forgotten. So if you give gift cards, send a reminder in March or April so that the recipient spends it when new merchandise comes in.


annot8 said...

Couldn't decide whether this is a bah, humbug! post or simple common sense. Is that this year's tree or a photo from last year?

PeonInChief said...

From last year. Because we have a living tree, it can't come into the house until just before Christmas, so it comes into the house the weekend before Christmas.