It's that time of year again. The tree hollers for lights; the cards shriek that they're late; the hubby complains I don't make enough money.1 Yes, it's Christmas.
The presents for the distant relatives are picked and packed--blushably cheap this year, but bearing enough thought to require an 18-wheeler. If time really were money, it'd be an armored 18-wheeler.
I love picking out presents. I want to give gifts to everyone in eyeshot. It reminds me of the connection I have to the other person, and the choice of gift shows the extent to which I understand her/him.
Problem is, I can't do it because gift-giving suggests that other people should reciprocate.
For instance: There are more distant family who live closer by, but their lives are too complicated already, and for that reason I can't give them anything but bread-and-butter gifts.
Then there are [those who]2 shoot superiority at you when gift-giving comes up, the way a skunk zaps a passing dog.
Even the neighbors blanch if you hand them a plate of Christmas cookies. They're watching their weight. So many temptations this season!
I have no intention of "guilting" people into giving me something. Still, as much as I like giving presents, I like to get them too.
Here's where Christmas brings out the pout. When you're a grownup, everyone assumes you're--well, a grownup. And we insist that No, You Don't Need to Get Anything for Me.
My Dad finally pointed this out the Christmas I gave him two replacement toothpicks for his Swiss Army knife.3
"Toothpicks?" he said. "You got me two toothpicks for Christmas?"
"I thought you didn't want us to buy you anything!"
He says, "Why is that the only thing I say that anyone listens to?"
They'd given me some money for Christmas, and the next day I went out and spent it all buying three presents for him.
So I say this: There are no grownups at Christmastime. We adults, who genuinely don't want to put other people to any trouble, still miss Santa Claus.
1This isn't true, but I like the way it sounds.
2Edited for the sake of Peace on Earth.
3He'd been complaining about that missing toothpick for months.