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I Wish Me a Gift-Free Christmas

December 18, 2012

Meditate for a moment on the meaning of Christmas. Goodwill. Cheer. Family bonds. Love. Generosity. Kinship with all of humankind. Maybe Jesus, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Then watch this:

Doesn’t that make you want to delicately remove your eyeballs with cocktail toothpicks and serve them to your neighbour’s Rottweiler so you never have to see anything like that, ever again?

Ah, Christmas. As one perspicacious commenter on that video put it, “What happened to just treating Christmas like another day but you’re just a little bit happier that day.” Indeed, what!

I legitimately don’t want any gifts for Christmas this year. Or next year, or any future Christmases. My girlfriend and I have practiced gift-abstinence for the last two years, and it has been quite refreshing. This year, however, I’m flying home to stay with my parents for the holidays, and it has always been a challenge to convince them of my sincerity concerning this issue, because they firmly believe I’m still six years old. Also, my dad lives and breathes to spoil people.

Actual Incident that Happened Last Time I Tried to Do This
Me: Dad, I don’t want you to buy me anything for Christmas this year.
Dad: *sulk*
Me: Sigh. Fine. I need some brown socks. You can buy me some brown socks. Okay?
Dad: *buys me a 32GB iPod Touch*

I have nothing against gifts per se. And I am by no means anti-Christmas. There are many things I love about Christmas, most of which involve pure hedonism. (Sleeping in. Drinking indulgent specialty liqueurs well before noon. Pyjamas all day. Boxed chocolates for lunch. Christmas cookies, hells yes! Plates and plates of them, everywhere! Sugar cookies, thimble cookies, shortbread, almond crescents, butter cookies rum balls macaroons gingerbread-snowballs-biscotti-amaretti-snickerdoodles-Pfeffernüssen-madeleines-marzipan-peanutbutterchocolatechip-oatmealnutmegcinnamonraisin-maplewalnutpeppermintvanillasprinklescarameltoffeecrunchcustardcream HYPERGLYCEMIC COMA! Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.)

It’s just that I don’t want to spend my two weeks of winter holidays immersed in a frenzied crush of haggard, desperate, phlegmy shoppers who are all on the verge of bitch-slapping each other because they’re all trying to occupy the same few hundred square feet of flood-lit sensory-overloaded space, like factory-farmed chickens with massive credit card debt. I don’t want my loved ones to go through this on my behalf, either.

And no, Martha Winfrey, I am not going to make handmade gifts for everyone. The last time I tried that it ended with tears, a fist-mark through the drywall and blobs of superglue on my favourite sweater (if you’re wondering why I was wearing my favourite sweater, I wasn’t. It was on the other side of the room.) This would be no less stressful for me than spending six hours chained to the front of a Walmart buggy on Christmas Eve.

So I’m hereby starting a one-woman movement to return Christmas to its true glory: gluttony and sloth! Also peace and love and that other stuff. Happy holidays.

  1. Kip permalink
    December 18, 2012 7:50 pm

    I did not know that you are a hedonist or a lesbian (“girlfriend”?).

    This was another great post from you. You’re a great writer. Especially the toothpick line.

    • December 18, 2012 8:09 pm

      Thanks, Kip!

      I don’t identify as lesbian (or hedonist, heh). My first post on this blog was actually written to explain about how I identify.

      • Kip permalink
        December 18, 2012 11:28 pm

        Oh I like that post too!

        So you’re surfing the middle strip of the Kinsey scale. Studies show that women’s sexuality can be more fluid than men’s. I think because every, men and women, agree that women are hot.

  2. katemick permalink
    December 19, 2012 12:19 am

    I really loathe the value we place on material things as status symbols, but I do have to admit that I love choosing presents for my loved ones and thinking about what they want and how I can give it to them. I am doing a cookie baking day with my mom this weekend and can’t wait to make more treats than is humanly possible to eat.

    • December 19, 2012 7:23 am

      I love choosing presents for loved ones at every other time of year, just not this one. :)

  3. December 19, 2012 2:41 pm

    I like your idea of gluttony and sloth as the appropriate celebration :)

    Sometimes, a well-selected gift can be a pleasurable thing to give (and of course to get). But for each one of those, I can think of at least one “throwaway” gift, a thing purchased for the sake of purchasing a thing, then plopped onto my lap. And no polite way to say please keep your money.

    I started that when I got hitched…Other half and I are on a shoestring, but the family has mone to gift with. Seeing no way to totally stop the exchanges, I consciously slowed it down by telling them, nicely, *well* before fall, that “there’s no money to burn this year, so I’m baking for you all!”

    The other day I was reading about gifts that go away (or something similar)…giving people edibles, potables, soaps or something that’s not going to hang around or end up in a landfill. There’s so many alternatives to mindless buying and the ebb and flow of crap!

  4. December 29, 2012 10:01 am

    Wow. Watching that video made me cry tears. Really.

    I have been on the teaching-my-kids-low-expectations-train for awhile now. (

    It’s pleasantly liberating.

  5. December 29, 2012 3:08 pm

    John Scalzi’s blog post on the matter should be of interest:

  6. Katie permalink
    January 7, 2013 1:07 pm

    Any chance you can explain to my mom that I don’t need as many presents as my sisters (I REALLY don’t want anything else)? I’ve tried to get her to scale it down as much as possible, asking for giftcards instead. I get the giftcards.. AND the 20 presents I have no room or use for.

  7. Neka permalink
    March 16, 2013 9:33 am

    But couldn’t this be subverted by simply shopping online? No need for angry mobs at stores.

    Sure, there’s a whole argument that can be made about materialism but to specifically address the problem presented in the OP about stressful shopping, online shopping seems like a viable circumvention (for those who can/know how to buy online).

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