Ah yes, Christmas. That season of giving when we buy things for people we hardly know (including relatives, in-laws and colleagues) in order to satisfy consumer-oriented cultural norms and make ourselves feel good. It doesn’t really matter if they want or need what we give them, as long as we give them something. Most people here in the “first world” already have way more than they need, so what we often end up giving is the gift of clutter. Awesome!
Years ago my family decided that only children would receive Christmas gifts. There’s been mission creep and backsliding over the years. I’m guilty. I still give to my adult daughter, her husband, and my adult nephew. My mother and father give me gifts. My wife’s Mormon family has elaborate Christmas rituals and celebrations involving gifts for everyone.
In 2015, the average American household supposedly spent $861 for Christmas gifts. Of that, I wonder how much was spent on generic, impersonal items like essential oils, bath soaps, candles, cologne, neckties and Jim Beam gift boxes. Every time I look at my checking account in November and December, I get pissed at what the Christmas season has become, and the expectations our consumerist society has set for it.
I never have a Christmas tree. Well, okay, I do. It’s an artificial Charlie Brown tree that I put up two weeks before Christmas, essentially mocking the whole idea of killing a tree and putting its corpse in the living room to dry up and become a fire hazard. Sue me, it amuses me. Yeah, I know, I’m going to hell. I hope they serve beer there.
This year I told almost everyone to donate to the Phoenix Rescue Mission in lieu of getting me gifts. It’s a Christian holiday, and giving to the homeless and hungry seems like the Christian thing to do. I don’t need another pocket square. I don’t need any more stuff.
I am a deplorable consumer.