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Saturday, December 18, 2010

AlI I Want for Christmas is Nothing



My extended family has performed every variation of gift exchange possible at Christmas. 'Round about Thanksgiving the email goes out, "What are we doing about Christmas?" We all understand this refers specifically to gifts (everybody? just kids? grab bag?) because we know exactly what we are doing ON Christmas. Every Christmas we go to my brother and sister-in law's lovely home where they provide a huge meal with a full bar featuring my brother's special Bloody Marys. They are special mostly because they are 80% premium vodka with a splash of Clamato juice, secret spices and a couple of ice cubes. There is a shimmer effect above your glass as light is bent in a minor explosion between the heavier alcohol molecules and the centrally heated air...I just made that up, but seriously, these drinks are strong. Everyone gets really drunk and eats too many pre-dinner treats thus spoiling our appetites for the main event. This routine is completely predictable but every year our hosts kill themselves putting on a large lovely dinner. If it were at my house I would just give everyone a pack of gum and send them home.

Back to gifts. An example of an average gift I might receive would be a bottle of wine or perhaps a counterfeit iPod.  OK, well when the wine is drunk and the battery in the i-Plod leaks, the excitement is over. This has to stop. This practice is stressful on us and our environment. Between the manufacturing, fuel, packaging, and consumer debt, gifting at Christmas has become unsatisfying for all involved. In this new, more thoughtful time I want to add my voice and declare, "I don't want a thing for Christmas BUT what I really need is new gutters!"  Economists say the exchange of goods or money should be about achieving the highest utility or satisfaction. It may also be argued that making another individual (in this case,me) happy through gifts (in this case, gutters) provides you with great personal satisfaction or utility. If someone gave me a charming, gluey, child-scrawled gift certificate, "Good for one hug and new gutters,"  that would be a "God bless us ... everyone!" moment. Oh, Christmas!

 Imagine our satisfaction on Christmas Day...
 "No, really I can not possible accept your generous gift of new gutters! Oh God, this is CRAZY! Well alright, but only because you are insisting. I don't want to offend you or your culture's beautiful tradition of paying for home repair. Thank you, I am extraordinarily grateful." I would say this last part with my head slightly bowed and my hands pressed in a pretentious Namaste-style gesture. Afterward we would touch our foreheads together to symbolize being of One Mind and then drink from each others Bloody Marys.