Yesterday marked the beginning of the official holiday shopping season. Selecting gifts for others is high on my list of activities that stress the body and challenge the intellect. How do I know what anyone else wants and needs unless they tell me? Both criteria, wanting and needing, are hard to satisfy, because most of us don’t need much more than we already have, and most of our wants don’t fall in the category of “for the low, low price of only $25.” Our houses are filled with stuff we don’t use, or at least mine is. Should I add more to everyone’s pile and hope they add more to mine? Am I right or do you detect the infamous Ebenezer Scrooge breathing down my neck?
As more and more people stand on freeway exits holding their signs — “Single father of three, unemployed, clean and sober,” or “Homeless veteran, please help, God Bless,” I wonder where I should be directing my Christmas dollars this year. The one tradition that I do find satisfying is the giving trees you sometimes see in stores with tags on their limbs: “Jennifer, age 8, doll; Mark, age 7, puzzles and games. Since human service agencies sponsor these, you know the need is there and the kids are clear about their wants. Unfortunately, you miss seeing the child’s face when he or she opens the present.
Don’t get me wrong. I like giving gifts. It’s the need to find the perfect gift that puts me in a snit, because I never know what the perfect gift is. Unless they fall in love with my gift, want to keep it for the rest of their lives and will it to their children or grandchildren, what’s the point?
I’d be happier if I had more time and talent to make gifts. I’d sew colorful tortilla warmers and baked potato bags, even placemats for everyone, but no one wants to receive something that looks like a ten-year old made it. I also like to bake cookies as gifts; they rarely take up space in the frig for more than a few days and give everyone pleasure, though, unfortunately, unwanted calories. I’m going to a friend’s house next week to learn how to make bookmarks of polymer clay and/or wire and rhinestones. If other friends are reading this, take this as a warning of what’s about to land in your Christmas stocking.
Note: I’m not a complete Scrooge. I even went to a mall jam-packed with shoppers and bought my first present yesterday. For me. You’re next.