After hearing multiple admonishments to help “put Christ back into Christmas”, I’ve decided that I would do my part. From now on, I will be referring to the holiday that I celebrate every December as Xmas. It has nothing to do with mangers or nativities or loose women claiming they got knocked up even though they were virgins, I swear, Joseph, really. It has to do with the pure essence of the season, the thing that puts a warm glow in the heart and the bright glimmer of joy in the eye.
I am, of course, talking about toys.
Getting toys, especially as an adult, is what Xmas is all about. All right, so my definition of toys is a little looser than typical, but I find the term meaningful for recapturing the essence of why we put up with all the work-related BS every one of us puts up with. The way I see it, toys are the things that you want, but as an adult, you can’t find any responsible reason to buy. Some of those things are true “toys”, like video games, but for me they also include books, swords, DVDs, and other things that my household doesn’t need.
I’ve done my best to convince Lady Aravan of this approach over the years. For her, buying anything “impractical” (her word) is a test of will. Can she really do it? Of course, for My Lady, buying clothes that fit is “impractical” when you have a closet full of clothes that don’t fit. (By the way, her approach only applies to her. Me buying clothes or whatever is fine. She struggles doing things for herself, although she has gotten MUCH better at it over the years.) She would talk about wanting things for the house for Xmas, like a vacuum or pots or something, and I always railed against this. See, to me, buying that stuff for the house was just a matter of course. You replace that stuff when you need and/or want to, not as a special occasion. Doesn’t matter when you get it.
See, Xmas should be FUN. It should be about getting this you want, not what you need, and especially things that you want but can’t make yourself buy during the year. I also subscribe to the theory that you should be VERY EXPLICIT about what you want. I have a wish list on Amazon. I put the things that I want there. Lady Aravan generally cleans it out every year at Xmas. She always worries that I’m not surprised by anything I get, but for me, the point is to get the damn things I WANT. Surprise gifts are cool, but the potential backfire of a lame gift just isn’t worth it to me. Tell me what you want, and I will get it for you.
“Oh, but you should put THOUGHT into it, you should KNOW what the other person wants.” Bullshit. Bullshit bullshit bullshit. First off, no one is always right with their surprise. It puts a huge burden on the gift-giver. Give a good gift, and its a sigh of relief. Buy a bad one, and now it’s “YOU DON’T KNOW ME AND CLEARLY HAVE NEVER LOVED ME.” It’s just not worth it. Secondly, studies have shown that receivers of gifts tend to value them less than the cost of the actual gift. What that means is, if I give you something, you might think it cost 10 bucks. That’s what you would have paid for it. In reality, it cost me 15 bucks. We’ve lost 5 bucks of economic value, all of which went to some corporation that is at this very moment cutting their employee benefits or something else dastardly. However, by giving the person something they actually asked for, the value isn’t lost. WIN WIN, BABY!
This year, I’ve already received all my gifts. I’m already playing with my toys. BEST XMAS EVER. I didn’t have to unwrap anything, a process I find so excruciating that it robs everyone of every ounce of happiness they’ve ever had in their lives if they even witness it. See, I’m not a particularly demonstrative person generally (a couple of drinks in, though, and suddenly I become the love child of a revival preacher and a game show host), and so if I get handed a gift and am expected to open it, right there, in front of the person who gave it to me, I tighten up. I don’t express joy well, and I know it, so now I’m worried. I want to look happy, no matter how shitty the present might turn out to be, so I go into Fake Happy Mode, which is a buttoned down, strictly controlled smile and rigid features. I open the present worriedly while the person fucking STARES AT MY FACE, and I always say something like “Cool, that’s awesome, thanks” in a monotone, ESPECIALLY IF I REALLY LIKE IT. I can’t win. I can’t express unfettered joy at a gift, so whether I open something I didn’t even know I wanted and it’s the best thing ever, you will get the exact same reaction if you handed me a gift-wrapped pile of old dog shit. I wish it wasn’t that way, but my anxiety prevents it from being any other way. So, long story short, if you hate me and want to torture me, the best way is to hand me a wrapped gift, stare at my face, and say “OPEN IT” all happy and excited. I will want to punch you in the face, but I’ll do it, and hate every single second of it.
So this year, I hopefully won’t have to open a single wrapped gift. I am praying for it. Meanwhile, for Lady Aravan, the gift that she likes best is a shopping spree. I set an arbitrary limit that she can double for all I care, and she goes out and buys whatever she wants. This is a huge deal for her, since she finds it hard to buy herself anything, and it’s like the spree helps her do something for herself that she wants to do but doesn’t feel like she should. It’s, again, a win-win. This year, she gets a whole new wardrobe, head to toe, whatever she wants. It’s what she wants, it’s also something she needs, and everyone should come out happy.
So this year, I want to wish you all a Merry Xmas. I hope you get a bunch of toys, and I urge you to utter the most sarcastic “Thanks” possible to anyone who gives you a wrapped package of socks or underwear or a sweater or something that you didn’t really want. It’s about getting those things that make life more pleasurable, big or small.
Oh, and all that family-time and warmth and togetherness and appreciation and all that shit too. But seriously, we just had Thanksgiving, and that should tide everyone over for a while in my opinion. Snuggling with your significant other is important: everyone else should sod off and find their own holiday.