now that the holidays have commenced (there are several more days of the ukkah part of chrismakwanzukkah), i've been wondering why i give gifts. todd was questioning me on it, and i felt hard pressed to give some response. the right-wing conservative christians want christmas to return to the religious holiday it might have been and eliminate extravagent gift giving. so am i the antithesis of them? i would hope not. but i'm in the habit of giving gifts and have been since i was young. but why do i do it now? perhaps it's conditioning. i've grown accustomed to getting loved ones a present at this time of year. and maybe, as i don't celebrate the actual religious holidays, it's so that in some little way i'm celebrating their holiday with them. not by praying, but by giving a gift to say "hey, have a great (fill in the blank)." but really, i think it's because i've taken pick-your-holiday to mean "good tidings to all," as in, i hope you're all are safe, happy, and healthy, and i value you being in my life.
now, what does the gift signify? probably nothing really, except that most of us have been taught from an early age to give a gift for birthdays, holidays, house warmings, graduation, etc. so when the shopping malls encourage us to give gifts, that must be a holiday, too. right? wrong. but i sort of enjoy the whole holiday schmoliday thing. the pine tree scent, the fruitcake made by monks, the office holiday party where you get food catered and fun fruity champagne drinks... something about it all just hints togetherness, warmth, and worldy love. and i enjoy giving gifts. i HATE receiving gifts-- i get embarrassed everytime and worried about what someone may have gotten me-- but i love searching for the perfect present for someone. i want to show them that i made an effort, that i tried my best, and that i wanted to give them something to make them happy. now, here's a glaring red flag. why do i think presents make people happy? because in reality, i know that gifts don't make people happy. or at least they don't make me happy. what makes me happy is others being happy. peace on earth (yeah, it's corny, but true). love not war (cornier, but truer). no poverty, homelessness, disease, global warming. i'm not sure how this all translates into gift giving, but i guess what i aim for is to make someone's life a little better, even if it means massages and jam. maybe i can work on my gift giving-- either giving less or donating towards some charity. but what i don't want is for someone who doesn't think like i do to feel cheated or hurt or neglected in some way. so maybe in some inkling, i support the conservative evangelical almighty-worshipping christians who want to return the holidays, and especially christmas, back into what it truly was. a day of church and prayer. this way, i'd be $250 richer, and i could do something "good" with it. like get my hair cut. or take a vacation. or feed a family in the hills of peru for a few months.