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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Scroogess rants about obligated giving with homage to bum hatred

I don't like to censor what I write on this blog, and that means that sometimes I say things that make me look like an ass, like when I wrote about how I hate bums. And maybe I am an ass for hating bums, but at least I'm being honest about how I feel. If I wrote that I have compassion for bums, that would be a warm and fuzzy post, but it wouldn't be the truth. That's not to say that there aren't good arguments for having compassion for bums, and so a part of me understands people who advocate for the homeless penners. But personally, I don't have that compassion. And that's the honest bare-boned truth.

So what I'd like to talk about today is related in that my opinion is not popular, and not admirable, though it may be understandable. But in any case it's the truth: I rather hate the holidays.

Sure, you might say, all atheists hate the holidays. Well, I don't agree with that assessment, but it's also not the reason that I hate the holidays, because in all honesty, the holiday season isn't about religion. It's about presents, but even deeper than that, it's about forced obligations, and THAT'S what I hate.

I don't even hate the presents. I don't hate receiving them, and I certainly don't hate giving them. But I hate knowing that I am socially obliged to buy presents for everyone that I care about in order to prove that I do care, and that I have to do it by Christmas.

This is a depressing thing to talk about just before the holidays, but it a way, it's an appropriate time to talk about it, because I feel like the spirit of the season needs to move away from this obliged giving. There shouldn't be these expectations from all sides, it's too draining.

I don't think I'm the only one to espouse this opinion. I read quite a few advice columns, for example, and almost all of them have had letters during the past couple months dealing with this issue of Christmas gift giving, and alternatives that families have independently come up with. These letters testify to the amount of tension that this obligated giving creates among family and friends. Some have issues with not being able to spend as much as others, some with not being able to find something for someone who has everything they need. Some don't want to give to people they feel emotionally estranged from, but they still feel a social obligation exerting pressure on them to give anyway. Some complain about having to give gifts to their kids' teachers or to coworkers or other acquaintances when they really only can afford or want to give to close friends and family. The list goes on.

For me, it's being obligated to buy presents for everyone all at once that I hate. I like buying presents for people. But I want it to be more than a result of a social obligation. I want it to be special.

And finally, I'm also one of those people who doesn't like the additional pressure to give to people that I wouldn't consider giving to normally, like acquaintances or even strangers.

We're having a food drive at work, and even though it's "voluntary", the pressure has been exerted on us to give food in equal value to what we might have spent on a gift to the firm.

Another obligation. Great.

How much more do I HAVE to give? Why can't I just give when and to whom I want? Though this drive may be voluntary, it's expected that I give, and thus I basically get to look like a selfish ass if I don't give anything. And to be honest, I don't WANT to give anything. I mean, that should be obvious based on my opinion on bums, right? Why should I enable this crowd of people I despise by feeding them?

(Please take the time of this parenthetical to throw any rotten vegetables you have in response to what I just said, I'll wait.......................................................................
Quite finished? No?..............................................................................................
Now? Out of your system? Alright thanks. Can't blame a girl for being honest.)

And finally, ingrate though I am, I wouldn't even want to give anything to my coworkers if we were doing that instead. I don't mind doing the white elephant gift exchanges. That's a fun game where everyone wins, and it isn't personal. Gift giving is personal, and giving to people that I don't feel personal with is meaningless to me. (It's like when people ask you how you're doing and you know they don't care how you're REALLY doing, so you just tell them you're fine regardless. It's a ridiculous social dance that I loathe. We might as well just dispense with the false interest and stick with a simple "hello". )

Well, as a good rant is meant to do, I feel emotionally spent, so I think I'll go read a book for awhile. But really, I would appreciate any comments my readers have on this subject, whether it be good or bad. I'm interested to know what other people think. Please note that you may comment anonymously, so there's no fear of retribution for your opinion.

And finally, I wish you all a very merry holiday, and I hope that you find some way to make it truly special and meaningful for you and yours.

Sra


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3 comments:

feed the world with PEZ said...

Christmas has for the most part lost its meaning. Its turned into the biggest of all capitalistic scams. Business makes a majority of their money during this time. And nonprofits and foundations and people looking for tax right offs push harder to get a piece of that pie.

I enjoy the smell of christmas, the crispness in the air, the scent of cinnamon things and those candy covered nuts at the mall.. Pretty lights and all christmas carols. Delicious hot chocolate. Even giving a little bit more. Those little subtleties. It gives me a sense of tradition... But then not long after, things become annoying. The terrible 80's christmas tunes repeated over and over. The dancing santas and the pulsing christmas trees that play part of rockin around the christmas tree over and over again. Stupid life size inflatable snow globes. And I always enjoy that pavlov's dog response I feel in my tummy when I hear the salvation army bells ringing EVERYTIME I want to buy groceries. It says to me "oh you are buying food? there are poor people out there that dont have money for food..". Then of course the bell ringer has to rub it in by saying merry christmas to underscore that guilt when I dont put loose change in the bucket. None the less they must be making a healthy revenue to pay then seven bucks and hour to stand there and pander guilt..

The subtleties I enjoy so much get drowned out in the cacophony of money making. Christmas is the original thanks giving. Spending time feasting and merry making with loved ones and friends giving thanks for a long hard year. Helping someone that needs it. And sure a few gifts to "children" (not wrapped until the 1800's by the way. Check out this link http://mymerrychristmas.com/2006/historyofwrap.shtml).

People really need to get back to finding tradition on their lives. And help those close to us that need it.(not just lazy bums) It gives us a sense of meaning and purpose. Read "A Christmas Carol" and "Its a Wonderful Life" a few dozen more times until it sinks in.

If you want a sense of real tradition all you have to do is visit a European country at Christmas time... I bet most of you dont even know what a "Christmas Cracker" is... find out here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_cracker

Sra said...

Thank you for your comment, pez. It looks like you and I might be alone in this one.

Anytime you slam capitalism and consumerism, people think you're slamming the American way of life. And I guess in many ways you are, since capitalism and consumerism are a huge part of our society.

I think I understand the dogmatic clinging to this mode of life. No one wants to be wrong, after all. I too once never questioned whether our way of doing things was the best way of doing things. But once you venture out into different cultures, you see that there are other fine ways of doing things, and that in turn makes you look at yourself and wonder whether our way is the "best" way after all, as we are often led to believe. Or if there even is a "best" way. I think some ways are better than others, but all ways have their upsides and downsides. I just don't think we have it right here.

Thanks for bringing up the bell ringers. I hate them too :)

Maybe I really am just a grouchy, selfish person. But is it selfish to want to turn Christmas away from the consumeristic holiday it has become?

Sra said...

Thank you for your comment, pez. It looks like you and I might be alone in this one.

Anytime you slam capitalism and consumerism, people think you're slamming the American way of life. And I guess in many ways you are, since capitalism and consumerism are a huge part of our society.

I think I understand the dogmatic clinging to this mode of life. No one wants to be wrong, after all. I too once never questioned whether our way of doing things was the best way of doing things. But once you venture out into different cultures, you see that there are other fine ways of doing things, and that in turn makes you look at yourself and wonder whether our way is the "best" way after all, as we are often led to believe. Or if there even is a "best" way. I think some ways are better than others, but all ways have their upsides and downsides. I just don't think we have it right here.

Thanks for bringing up the bell ringers. I hate them too :)

Maybe I really am just a grouchy, selfish person. But is it selfish to want to turn Christmas away from the consumeristic holiday it has become?

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