Carrying on with the Christmas theme then…
What Christmas present do you buy for the person who has everything? What do you buy for your parents? What do you buy for anyone?
Is it the case that we buy the presents we’d like for ourselves and give them to others?
I don’t know.
In another Christmas blog post I did a few days ago, one of the comments suggested that I was focusing on the commercial side of Christmas since I was talking about Santa delivered presents over the years. Christmas never used to be commercial but it is now. Okay, we can choose how commercial we want it to be and the costs which have, especially at the moment, got out of hand.
You’ll be familiar with Martin Lewis of Moneysavingexpert.com fame? I heard him on the radio a couple of years ago talking about how much money is spent at Christmas. He was pushing the idea that it’s out of control, it encourages people to spend money they haven’t got and there’s too much pressure to conform.
All of that is of course true and my Scrooge side is well onside with that.
But there’s pester power and social pressures to overcome. You end up in a complicated negotiation during which very few words are spoken and which is rarely carried out face to face. It’s like Christmas cards. You send them to people and they send you one back and vice versa. If someone doesn’t send you a card you don’t send him or her one the next year. Then they do and it comes in too late for you to send one to them. Next year you send them a card and they don’t send one to you so you don’t send on next year and they do and so it goes on.
The reality is you may want to show how fond, or grateful you are or acknowledge someone by buying them a gift which you hope will “wow” them. On occasions you do but for the most part you fall short of the mark for them. Try harder next year? If only.
You also end up in the value game. I’ll spend £20 on them. What can I get them? They have everything. I’ll get them a £20.00 Amazon voucher then. You give them a card with the voucher details inside. Done deal. They give you a card too. You open it and it’s a voucher for £20 from Amazon. Doh!
Some people say “don’t give me anything”. Then you don’t and they’re maybe a wee bit miffed. It’s a minefield I tell you.
What’s the best gift you have ever given? The one that lights up someone’s face when they open it. How often does that happen?
There’s also the bonanza on EBay and Gum tree post Christmas. There are a lot of items up for sale in early January, which are “unwanted gifts”. They may be unwanted by someone but to someone else they are just what they wanted and a lot cheaper than it would have been to buy in a shop. Good deal really for everyone part from the person that bought it originally.
Maybe there should be some sort of giant gift exchange sort of like Swap Shop but without the loud sweaters and beards? Maybe there are gifts out there, which have been circulating like years. There’s probably a complicated mathematical equation, which dictates how long it would take for your unwanted gift, which you sold on eBay to come back to you and the number of steps required also.
Christmas is just one day. The vast majority of people are giving all year round. They give of their time, financially, supportively and in an encouraging manner. Christmas cheapens this somehow. It’s a pity but there it is.
Perhaps we should go back to the 50s early 60s. New Year was the thing in Scotland. It was the only time of the year you’d see men carrying message bags. They only did this because it had their bottle of whisky, cans of export, something for the ladies and fizzy pop for the weans/bairns inside.
They say that Ibiza is the party capital of the world. Strike that. Scotland was the real party capital of the world. Non of that fakey Princes Street stuff either, oh no! New Year lasted from Hogmanay until the day before you went back to work/school etc. although at times it might also continue the following weekend. Once you are in party mode you need to make the most of it apparently.
Home made soup, steak pie, tatties and veg followed by cloutie dumpling. Wholesome food designed to sustain you through the partying season. Rooms full to bursting point with people you almost all knew. You know the scenario: a roaring coal fire, water running down the inside of the windows, weans/bairns playing games, people singing, dancing, chatting, laughing and generally being jolly, music blaring.
Those days are past now and in the past they shall remain.
Onwards and upwards.