Friday, November 23, 2007

But I Like Giving Presents!

If you're in the U.S. (and even if you're not) you're probably aware that today is Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, where stores open at 4 a.m. and people knock each other down for sale-priced electronics and gifts.

It's also Buy Nothing Day, which is exactly what it sounds like. In order to raise awareness of the consumerist aspects of the holiday season (or consumerism in general), people pledge to buy nothing today.

(A new blogger, CannedIce, penned an essay on the benefits of Buy Nothing Day. She's also my cousin, which makes her cool. Do click.)

And it is, once again, the time of year where people start writing editorials about how Christmas has become too commercialized, that we should give charitable donations or volunteer hours in lieu of presents, etc. etc. etc.

Which is all very well and good.

But... I like giving Christmas presents. I really like giving Christmas presents. (I'd say "I like giving presents" in general, which is true, but I'm always in much better game for Christmas than I am for, say, birthdays, which seem to sneak up on me without warning. With Christmas I've got months to plan and look.)

Sometimes the presents are simple. One year everyone in my family got socks, with notes in the package on which I had written humorous anecdotes from Christmases past. At my absolute poorest, I gave my friends ISBN numbers, with the idea that they were to go to the library and look them up in the catalog and then check out the book I wished I could buy for them. I do mix tapes, handmade sketches, things like that.

But this year I'm quite proud of the presents I've collected, and really excited to give them. I love pretty things and I love giving people pretty things. I'm really proud that this year I don't have to give anyone socks.

Sure, I'm still young. Maybe in fifteen years I'll be tired of giving presents, and ready to send around an email saying "in awareness of the rampant consumerism of the holidays, we are making a conscious decision to abstain from gift-giving and hope you will do the same," or "economists recognize that presents are depreciating assets and thus poor investments; we are putting our holiday spending money into a mutual fund and in return we don't expect anything from you either; really if you were smart you'd follow our example, and if there's anything we really need in our lives, we'll buy it ourselves."

But there's something so wonderful about watching someone open a good present. Something they were really hoping to get; or, better still, something that's a complete surprise but manages to make them light up with excitement. I've only pulled that one off a few times in my life, but when it happens it's so cool.

So. Black Friday? Still probably bad. But giving presents? Still totally awesome. I'm not planning to stop anytime soon.

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