“The essence of the custom is that I now have to go out and purchase for you a gift of commensurate value and representing the same perceived level of friendship as that represented by the gift you’ve given me. It’s no wonder suicide rates skyrocket this time of year.” ~ Dr. Sheldon Cooper
If you’ve ever had a conversation with me for more than five minutes, I’ve probably confessed that “The Big Bang Theory” is my favorite television show, and if you’ve ever watched it, you’ll probably agree that Dr. Sheldon Cooper is a very interesting (and annoying) guy. So, it’s no wonder that I quoted him here.
Quirky as his character may be, the sentiment he’s expressed about gift giving has merit. Instead of the pure joy we should experience when giving a gift, somehow it’s turned into an obligation. A stressful one, at that.
Before I launch into a tirade, let me make this perfectly clear: I’m not talking about gifts for the children in your life. This rant is strictly about adults.
So, as we all are making our lists and figuring out what to get the guy who has everything, I find myself short-tempered. My brother-in-law makes a good living and is, fortunately, able to buy whatever he wants. So, what kind of inexpensive tchotchke (and yes, that’s how you spell it) can I possibly buy for him? I know of families, my own included, who draw a name on Thanksgiving, and that person becomes your only gift-giving responsibility. My family used to list three things within the preset dollar limit to make things easier for the shopper. And when we got together and opened presents, we’d politely exclaim “it’s just what I wanted!” Is it me? Or does that seem a bit ridiculous?
And while I’m complaining, I want to express my dislike for the “white elephant” gift exchanges. Again, there’s a reasonable dollar limit, thankfully, and the rule is that you can steal the revealed gift from anyone who’s opened a present before it’s your turn, or you can take your chances on the remaining pile. Sometimes, people are too polite to steal, and other times, the only really decent gift (i.e., a bottle of Pinot Noir) gets stolen over and over again. What you are likely to wind up with will undoubtedly become your contribution to next year’s white elephant exchange.
In the past, I’ve taken another route over the holidays, and given away mason jars with homemade soup, stew, or chili. They seem to be well-received, but I honestly don’t know for sure. This year will be different. No mason jars will leave my house. I intend to chalk it off to the Great Disaster of 2020 by exercising COVID-caution, and not putting my friends at risk.
If this sounds like a Bah Humbug, so be it. I’m channeling Dr. Sheldon Cooper and opting out. If anyone shares this opinion, please let me know. I hope I’m not the only Grinch this year.