December 19th, 2012

So, in order to spend the next year enjoying the benefits of being a part of my family, which I do, actually, really enjoy, in the next few days I’m supposed to go out and spend a not insignificant sum of money taking more or less random guesses at little objects that each of them might want. Historically, those guesses have mostly been wrong, and there’s no real reason to think that this year should turn out to be the exception. All of us have sections of our closets full of clothes that are almost our style, but not quite. There are the gag gifts that everyone laughed at when they were opened, but have no actual life function. Accessories for hobbies bought by someone who knows nothing about the activity they’re accessorizing are thoughtful, but end up stashed someplace where no one can see they haven’t been opened. I don’t know what’s worse, the stress of trying to find something to buy, or the guilt of owning and not using all these thoughtful but superfluous things.

I like gift giving, though. I like the act of generosity. Maybe it’s the need to spontaneously generate ideas out of nowhere that’s plaguing me. Or maybe it’s all the outside pressure to buy, the non-stop stream of ads that make me want to shut my wallet forever, just at the moment when I’ve got this obligation to spend. These thoughts have led me to this great idea that I’m wondering if I’ll be brave enough to execute. What I’d like to do this year is to give everyone in my family something out of my own house. It seems to me that giving something that I like, but that I think that my sister, for example, will like more, is kind of a purer action. Or I can argue the point, in any case. And it’s not like I’m inventing the idea; my stepdad’s aunt did it just last year. Of course, she’s 88, Jewish, and sat complaining that she didn’t understand why she was being forced to give Christmas gifts the whole time. Still, I’ve really enjoyed wearing the scarf she gave my mother. The only danger I can foresee, aside from insulting the lot of them, is giving back something that one of them gave me.

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