What I Did For Christmas and a Question About Presents
We did what we do every single year: we woke up the kids at the crack of ass, gave them a completely unhealthy breakfast of nutella as an apology for waking them up so early, and drove downtown on empty streets to volunteer. Before we had kids, we got to do cool volunteer projects such as cook at DC Central Kitchen. Now that we have kids, we are assigned to doing “kid-friendly” activities which do not involve stirring enormous steaming vats of macaroni and cheese or working with knives. This year, we made the Christmas cards that they handed out on the streets as they delivered meals to the homeless who couldn’t get to shelters. I have never drawn so many Christmas trees in my life. And Josh donated his blood.
I like reading all the Christmas posts where people describe what they did for the holiday. I was a bit commented-out by writing Creme de la Creme blurbs on Saturday, but I liked seeing photographs of trees or reading about what was served at various meals. I’m always curious how people choose whether to make Christmas Eve or Christmas Day the focus. I’m a big fan of nativity scenes and “Silent Night” and beautifully decorated trees, especially when there is meaning behind most of the ornaments.
So this is my ignorant question:
Up until the actual Christmas Day posts, all I saw this year in regards to Christmas was the enormous consumerism. The Black Friday pepper spraying incidents and all the subsequent craziness that followed (such as the man who dropped over dead and people stepped over his body to continue shopping). The continual push from mid-October to December 24th to buy things. I know the vast majority of people don’t shop in this manner, but people do seem to get very stressed out with Christmas shopping.
I don’t understand the pressure of Christmas gift giving, which is why I’m asking about it. We don’t have a holiday like this, and the only Jews who do participate in this manner with Chanukkah do so as mimicry of Christmas (yeah, that whole 8 days of presents things… that’s an American tradition created to resemble Christmas). I buy people birthday gifts, but I only have to concentrate on one person at a time. And I get the twins a present for Purim, and my nieces a present for Chanukkah/Christmas. But it’s easy to shop for children. I don’t think I’d do well with the pressure of having to purchase dozens of unique gifts for various individuals all at the same time. I would probably crack under the pressure and cry, or I’d phone it in and get everyone a gift card, hating myself in the process.
Someone explained to me that people give bigger gifts on Christmas than they do for birthdays. Where it would be excessive to buy someone a computer for their birthday, it’s completely reasonable to buy it for Christmas. I’m not sure this is entirely correct, which is why I am turning to you, o’ People of the Internet. When you’re buying people a gift, would you opt for doing something extravagant for Christmas and something more subdued for a birthday?
And because I need to live vicariously through you — what did you get as a gift for Christmas this year? And what was your favourite gift you gave?
Hopefully I haven’t offended anyone. I really am curious about this and am trying to understand the gift-giving side to the holiday.