Every year in the lead up to Christmas one of my siblings proposes the idea that, perhaps this year, we might not exchange gifts. My sibling cites financial constraints, which, I must say, coming from someone in a double-income-no-kids situation completely boggles the mind of me, your chronically under-employed, financially precarious correspondent. That’s not a financial constraint!
Another implicit justification for this no-present-Christmas proposal is the suggestion that we don’t need presents because it’s enough to be together and we don’t need material reassurance of our love we are the world we are the children—oh, puh-leaze! Have we met? Do you know our mother?
Here is not the place to go into my abandonment issues, but I do need such reassurance. I am one amorphous, self-destructive blob of neediness. I am a vampire, falling on the most minute manifestation of your possible regard for me with the blood-lust of Angelus on the sweet, pulsing jugular of a co-ed.
And besides, Christmas is one of the few occasions I can legitimately get my hands on decent loot (vide supra the financial precariousness of your esteemed correspondent).
Moving on from dissing my sibling (who really is very generous and lovely), I have also encountered this no-present pronouncement on those occasions when I’ve spent Christmas with other orphans, both figurative and literal. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was one year when all the other orphans readily agreed to this suggestion by one of our fellows (vide supra decent and legitimate loot).
Now I understand that, perhaps for figurative orphans in particular, Christmas is a stressful time, but surely by ditching our dysfunctional families we’re making a stand against the tyranny of unhappiness and unreasonable, self-esteem-destroying expectations? We’re spending it with people we’ve chosen. Show me your love with a lime, basil, and mandarin soy candle!
What’s that? You find my demand for a lime, basil, and mandarin soy candle as evidence of your love and friendship tyrannical and unreasonable? Shut up! This is my CRANK article.
As I was saying.
I love giving and receiving gifts at Christmas. I enjoy seeing the pleasure a carefully considered gift can bring. It’s my way of showing that someone matters to me and I’ve noticed them—what they like, who they are. And, of course, it’s nice when others reciprocate.
The thing is, we give presents at this time of year because in biblical lore the magi presented the newborn Christ child with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; the often piously delivered ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season’ isn’t contradicted by the tradition of buying or making presents for others. The origins of gift giving at Christmas are far from exclusively materialistic and commercial—in fact, given the wise men were kings, they seem more political—and to suggest otherwise misses important kinds of exchange and value between friends and family members that are the very foundations of our kinship and community groups.
*cue The Little Drummer Boy*
KIRSTY L (@KIRSTY_L), BRISBANE
Speaking of presents, you should really buy a copy of Materiality: SURFACE for all your friends and relatives. Or, back copies (of PRECIOUS, TIME and BOOK), they're cheaper. Demonstrate your love and affection and head on over to the pinknantucket press shop.