It might seem strange to write an explanation of a truth that most Americans hold self-evident.
We buy Christmas presents because that’s just what we do on Christmas.
It’s fun. And Americans love fun. We especially love fun that must be purchased. So once a year we host a holiday in which we are all expected to buy each other things just for fun.
There a million reasons to subject this practice to serious critical analysis and call our consumer Christmas culture into question.
But I don’t.
I love it.
I love every gaudy minute of it.
I love receiving things I would never buy for myself, and I love tearing through shiny silver and blue paper to get at them. Love it.
But I love giving things more. I love picking out the perfect thing. I love wrapping it in shiny red and green paper and sticking a pretty bow on top. I love sliding it under the tree and teasing the recipient about what it could be. I love the anticipation of watching them open it.
When Alex and I have children, I will ruin them with my own love for giving them things, just as our mothers and fathers ruined us with theirs. And I won’t feel bad about it one bit because it was fun. Gloriously, ridiculously, mysteriously fun.
And I think we turned out okay in spite of our spoiling. When the acquisition of nice things isn’t part of your daily routine, I don’t see the harm in piling them on once every year. It’s fun. And sometimes that’s the only excuse something needs to exist. (See the platypus.)
As an intellectual blogger there is a pressure to fill up all these empty blogging time slots with cultural critiques about consumer Christmas, but as a werewolf there is a desire to not worry about what it all means and just enjoy it, just revel in the sensual pleasures of the whole thing. The lights. The smells. The tastes. The silky smooth gift wrap shredded by my ripping claws. It’s fun. It’s magical.
Last year I couldn’t buy anybody presents. Not my girlfriend. Not my parents. Not my dogs. I was miserable. I hid behind being a minimalist and told people not to buy me gifts. But I wanted gifts and I wanted to give gifts. I was just too poor.
I’m still poor, but since I currently don’t have to pay rent or buy my own food (thanks, mom! [she's not really reading this. I would die]), I was able to buy gifts for the people I love this year. I’m not craft. And I’m unreliable when it comes to time-promises. So I bought them things. Yes, objects. Why? Because it’s fun. It makes us all happy. To me, that’s a good thing.
Tomorrow night I will open presents without one iota of guilt. I will give presents without one iota of guilt. It will be marvelous. Despite what the culture warriors would have us believe, it is, in fact, possible to spend quality time with people you love and give them awesome presents at the same time.
On Monday morning, we’ll clear away the remnants of paper and ribbons and go back to work. I’ll write scathing essays about consumerism and blah blah blah. It’ll be great. But for the next few days, I will be lost in a blur of magnificent materialistic frenzy. See you on the other side.