Monday, December 20, 2004

One more thing to worry about ....

I generally stress out about a lot of things I shouldn't, but exploding Zambonis have not been among them.

But right now, x-mas is (I take mine christ-free, thank you very much). I don't get terribly bugged about it being a Christian holiday--I make up for that by saying a lot of "goddamns" all season long. I really think having some sort of celebration at the beginning of winter is probably a good idea; it's a way of staving off for a couple of weeks the gloom and depression of the cold, dark season. I like that people string lights all over their houses and lawns--especially the ones where nothing matches and it's just a huge, happy, gaudy hodge-podge of crap that makes the statement: "Who gives damn what the neighbors think?" (My favorites are the nativity scenes that include Santa, toy soldiers, reindeer, snowmen, Homer Simpson, etc.) I like having decorations up everywhere I go, and I can even get into a bit of christmas music. I think I really just have a problem with the whole deadline thing.

I don't need one more deadline in my life. Although I hate shopping (except at Target--I think they put something into the air there), in theory I support the giving of gifts. It's nice to give people things, but why do they have to all be due on Dec. 25th? Of course, I'm all against mindless consumerism, non-stop commercialism, needless waste and unnecessary debt, which means that theoretically I should be all for making x-mas gifts for everyone. It doesn't work like that in real life for reasons I'll get to, but let's pretend for a moment that I'm making all of my x-mas presents this year. They all would have to be done by Saturday. In reality, since I'm making presents for a handful of co-workers, they have to be done by Thursday morning, because we're off Friday. It's fun and nice to make things, but when you have a deadline and when the thing in question really needs to look half-decent, it adds up to a whole lot of pressure. It's no longer creative self-expression, which is good, but obligatory toil, which is bad. So more than once over the past week I've thought to myself "Screw this homemade crap, I'm going to Target."

But even the whole making-gifts thing gives me a few ethical dilemmas. For one, my homemade gifts are decorative and not really useful. Who needs more decorative crap around their house? Not me--in fact I couldn't give Mark a homemade gift because it would be too silly--the poor guy has to live his life surrounded by my "art" (and I'm using that term very liberally) whether he likes it or not. Then there is my mother, who may appreciate my artistic attempts, but has a tendency to live a very cluttered life (I know where I get it from). I refuse to contribute to that, so I'm careful to get her something she can actually use (this year it's Warm Things To Wear). As for the co-workers who are going to get homemade crap from me, I don't know whether they need or want yet another decorative piece of crap, but I don't want to be the only one in my group who doesn't have a little token for the others. So it's either go and buy some useless crap, thus contributing the all that is evil about x-mas, or make some, and I feel better about making it. They can regift it or donate it to a thrift store and I'll never know the difference.

I know one oft-suggested x-mas gift is to make a donation to a person's "favorite charity." Look, I'm cheap. If said charity wants a hand-painted faux-stained-glass vase made out of a bottle that otherwise would have been thrown in the recycle bin, then we're good to go.

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