What I don’t want for Christmas...

Peter Guinta

 

St. Augustine

Gift-buying for Christmas is now universally required. Everyone seems obsessed with lemming-like obedience to otherwise restrained spending. So they dump a fortune at stores, creating debt, just so folks they know can open pretty boxes at year’s end.

We less cooperative people hate crowds, mob behavior and Christmas music. We refuse to participate. I try to avoid being caught up in all the frenzy and encourage all to enjoy their madness.

Snowy displays in shops go up before Halloween. Why not start earlier, say the Summer Solstice? One year I told everyone I’d be out of town over the holidays so they wouldn’t drop in with cookies or – horrors! — fruitcake. But that careful, under-the-radar preparation to enjoy a quiet day at home doing nothing was my attempt to spend time without the guilt, expense and pressure of exchanging gifts. These plans were sabotaged by family members trying to convince me I’d become depressed if I missed the sad fun they planned.

It’s the custom of gift-giving that’s most offensive. I love to give gifts, but not Christmas gifts. After receiving Christmas presents, the obligation arises to be thankful and (perhaps) give a gift in return. I resent being forced into those tense situations. If there’s no gift given back, here comes the implied guilt. Skip all that.

Buy small presents for people you love all through the year, not once a year.

Most years, my spouse gives me a nice present, then urges me to open secondary presents, such as socks, underwear or a shirt, because “you need them anyway.” But I don’t really need anything.

This year, I’ve listed gifts I don’t want, so someone might save money by avoiding the purchase of unwanted items.

First: I wouldn’t buy anyone books. I have a thousand volumes and my taste runs to the eclectic and wide-ranging, bordering on the bizarre. Because I have so many, people think I’d love more. Wrong! I want to buy more, but let me pick ‘em, thanks. Give a gift card to Barnes &Noble or Amazon or Friends of the Library bookstore. My last great read was a history of the Yugo, the worst car ever made. Couldn’t put it down. No one would have predicted my interest in that car. I’m not a car guy. Let a person choose his own books.

Second, don’t get tools. They’re like books. Let a guy buy what he needs when he needs it. I have too many tools. Most I have no idea what they do. Really, I have 50 screwdrivers.

Third: No personal products. Most men rarely use cologne. I still have a bottle my wife bought me in 1999. It’s three-quarters used, but will still last another five years. Let a fellow get his own electric shaver, soap, shampoo or body wash. A gift card from Walmart would work.

Fourth: No food. No exceptions. Especially home-made cookies.

Fifth: Avoid manly-man stuff. No weights or get-thin-quick products. If you must give something, buy booze or flashlights. Either’s good, even in multiples.

Sixth: Clothing is like books or tools. I choose my wardrobe (usually cheaper stuff) according to taste, not from what’s on sale. No belts or shoes. I’m 70 now and have pretty much everything I need. Maybe I can use a new shirt now and then, but I want to choose it myself. I’m particular about how a shirt feels. Fabric, neck, style, fit and color are all factors that determine my choice.

Seventh: Buy nothing cute, endearing, funny or whimsical. No religious figurines, coffee mugs, knick-knacks, t-shirts with cartoons or political sayings, dog paintings, piggy banks, fuzzy slippers or civilian-made military equipment. Real military equipment, however, is highly acceptable, especially grenades.

Eighth: Avoid heirlooms, like grandma’s quilts, family statues of St. Anthony, antiques or painted souvenirs from 1920s Japan. Most men won’t feel nostalgic. They’d think, “Didn’t I throw this out?”

Ninth: No wall hangings, landscape photos or color prints. My walls are already covered with useless, dusty glass things and masks – most received as gifts or bought during PTSD flashbacks. Avoid even original art, because you don’t know what I like. And, as you now know, I don’t like much.

So have yourselves a merry little Christmas!

But remember, I’m not shopping.

 

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