Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shopping Days are Running Out...

If you're a man who hasn't bought gifts for Christmas yet, you could be in a heap 'o trouble. First of all, you're running out of time, man! That Black and Decker cordless drill you've been meaning to buy your girl may be all sold out and you may be forced to buy her jewelry instead! Hurry, man, hurry!

Christmas is my least favorite holiday, next to Valentine's Day. Oh, no, not because I can't get into the romance of mistletoe and twinkling lights, or hot cocoa and a warm fire. No, I get into that just fine. I even enjoy the romance of Valentine's Day, if such a thing still exists.

What I hate is the commercialism of both. At least some people or groups of people still pretend to uphold the Spirit of Christmas with their giving back to the community, and nativities can still be seen for those who still remember that this pagan holiday was adopted by the Christians so that they could celebrate the birth of Jesus without detection.

Valentine's Day doesn't bother to mention the saint it's named for, nor why, but I'm not Catholic, so I don't really care about that. What does bug me, however, is how the 364 other days of the year when people can (and should) be romantic and loving towards each other get ignored and pushed aside in the rush to buy the most expensive chocolates, bouquets of roses, sparkling jewelry, or other tokens of appreciation. And it's so ingrained in our society that women everywhere spend the next week at watercoolers and over lunches bragging about how "over the top" their man went this year. Now I have heard some pretty incredible and romantic stories about how Valentine's was spent, but what's wrong with an ordinary Friday -- or Tuesday! -- night in the middle of August?

So while people are teaching their kids that the spirit of Christmas is who can get the best gifts, or the most expensive new toys, therefore validifying "parental coolness" amongst preadolescent and adolescent peers, and while couples are buying into the notion that romance can only really occur on Feb. 14th with any credibility for exemplifying "true love" to each other, I sit back and unenthusiastically watch it all happen with sadistic glee.

My tree is up, but the skirt is empty. There are lights on my house, but there are not piles of toys for the kids to unwrap on Christmas Day. I prefer moderation at this time of year, blowing all out for birthday's instead. Why? Because on top of being frugal -- or at least logical, and refusing to go into debt to buy Christmas gifts -- I have a problem with material gluttony.

Little gifts are given all year round around here. Sometimes they're given as rewards, sometimes for no reason whatsoever. But we don't do a countdown to Christmas starting on Thanksgiving or in July or on December 26th of the previous year, because it just doesn't matter to us.

I'm not saying change your traditions to match mine. I'm just saying that there are certain ideas promoted by Kay Jewelers and Macy's and Wal-Mart and others that this is the time to take out a second mortgage to impress people (kids, co-workers, relatives, neighbors and the like) with how much you probably shouldn't afford and possibly can't afford. This is the time when giving gifts tied with ribbon should come second to giving time and giving to those in need -- like the hungry, the unexpectedly jobless, those that just found out they have cancer and no insurance... people who need healing of the heart, not a new sweater. There is plenty to do to spread Christmas cheer other than stuff your kids' rooms with more stuff.

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