Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thanks for the (Hideous) Sweater (Which I Plan to Burn the Minute You Leave) Aunt Gracie!

It should come as no surprise that SCCL's resident grouchy Gus doesn't like Christmas. In part this stems from working retail when I was in high school. 10 hour days of canned Christmas music on an endless loop, rude people yelling about the lack of our marzipan selection (I didn't even know what marzipan was, let alone the need for a selection), and sweeping up the broken items customers destroyed in their consumerist frenzy... including a repeatedly, and suspiciously, beheaded giraffe statue.

Aside from that, there is the whole gift thing. It's not that I am against gifts. Finding that perfect something for someone is a great feeling. And show me someone who doesn't like to get gifts. No, that's all fine and dandy. It is the sometimes obligatory nature of Christmas gifts that bum me out.

Chances are, you buy a number of gifts for people each year that A) you hardly know or B) would rather not know. But you buy them a gift because you fear they will buy you a gift. The absurdity of this situation is that they are only buying you a gift because they are afraid you will buy them a gift. And what do you get for the person you feel obliged to buy a gift for? You get them an ever so personal gift certificate of course (which has become the modern day equivalent to fruit cake).

To save myself from having to deal with this awkward phenomenon, I introduce a Machiavellian plan around the beginning of November. I find a horrific "Christmas sweater" over at Savers (no doubt made with love by some kindly aunt and abandoned with disdain by some ungrateful nephew). I then show all the possible-obligation-gift-givers the sweater I got for "my friend so and so" (who does not exist). I say this without any irony or hipster winkiness. This thereby calls into question not only my taste level, but my abilities as a gift giver. Suddenly everyone decides that gifts aren't necessary that year. "Really, just getting together for dinner is enough." Problem solved.

Of course, I can't use the Christmas sweater trick every year. That would be too obvious. So last time it was a taxidermy rat. Year before that, a cinder block I found in a parking lot. Unfortunately, this has led people to believe that I have a fondness for small stuffed mammals and building materials. Which isn't too much of an issue until they feel obligated to get me a birthday gift.
posted by jw