It’s only a few days away from Christmas and I am really not into it this year. Sorry for the honesty, but my mind is on other matters this year.
People often ask me if I am ready for Christmas and I don’t know how to answer that question in a way that is logical and comprehendible. The truth is I am never really ready for the yuletide season in the conventional sense. I struggle in that department and have to admit that receiving presents from others is not high on my list of socially rewarding experiences – it actually makes me feel awkward and a little uneasy.
On the other side of the equation, I often find selecting and giving gifts – the right kind of gifts – at a predetermined time is not easy for me unless inspiration hits me right between the eyes. I understand there are other guys who also have the same feelings (we just don’t talk about it publicly). Women can easily identify us because we are the men who find the process of browsing or shopping for the right gift to be a painfully slow and arduous experience. It’s far more pleasurable to be in a boat even if the fish aren’t biting or a tree stand patiently waiting for the perfect Boone and Crockett buck to step into view.
To top it off, I do not enjoy giving a gift if I do not feel good about the present itself. I find it difficult to purchase something without knowing it has a high probability of bringing joy to the recipient. That likely sounds silly, but I am at the point where I do not want to give impractical or unappreciated presents to others. There is enough clutter and useless items in our lives without adding to it out of obligation. Ouch, I sound like the Grinch who stole Christmas and Ebenezer Scrooge wrapped up in one.
I have tried a variety of gift-giving experiments on my family members and friends and the results were mixed: mixed emotions in individuals who were truly mixed up by my actions. For example, one year we held a Mexican gift exchange for our family and close friends. A small gift was concealed in a bag for every person who was at our house. The gift bags ranged from cash and useful items to a useless block of wood. The wood was a gag – a joke of course – and it would have been quite hilarious if the youngest and most excited person had not selected it. As it turned out he was a good sport, but I am sure the experience left him with some serious emotional scars.
There was the time I was even more thoughtful and purchased a ring for my wife for our anniversary. I decided to make the whole experience more memorable by concealing the nature and shape of the gift. Doing so meant she had no idea what her cylindrical present contained. It was indeed a total surprise when she unwrapped her gift and found a coffee can. She didn’t appear particularly pleased and was not overly excited by the idea of sifting through a coffee can to find her present. I thought she might let out a little squeal (or acted somewhat thrilled for the sake of the children), but that was not the case.
You get the picture I am sure, so there is no need to describe the types of birthday gifts I have handed out over the years. It is sufficient to say the trend began at an early age when my oldest sister and I hatched a plan to hit our younger sisters (twins) with water balloons at their birthday party. Immediately after it happened, I knew it was a bad idea by the gasps and looks of horror on the faces of the twins’ friends. Then came tears, crying, sobbing, followed by a spanking, then more tears and crying.
It actually troubles me that I do not have a greater heartfelt sense of joy and peace at Christmas and trust me, that is difficult to fake. Some people may think my problem began at an early age when a school bus friend told me his dad would be Santa Claus at the community Christmas party. I checked out St. Nick at the party, but wasn’t sure if my friend was lying. Therefore I asked my parents and they told me the truth. Soon I realized most adults were liars when it came to Christmas and the real identity of Santa Claus. Heck, I got in on the action myself. Along with all my family members, we lied to my twin sisters when they were young since they were very excited about the prospect of Santa coming down our furnace exhaust pipe and leaving gifts for everyone. Sure enough, Santa left presents at our house and I learned a valuable lesson about telling the truth.
Looking back, it all seems so ridiculous and makes me wonder what will unfold when my grandchildren and their parents arrive later this week.
As for other favourite Christmas memories, every one involves family get-togethers, good food and activities such as board games if it was too cold to play outside. By far the most fun we had was in the form of sledding, making snow forts and skating on dugouts or homemade rinks. Snowmobiling and being towed behind on skis or a toboggan was a highlight when we were older.
However, the best part of every Christmas was spending time with family and friends and that is what I am looking forward to this year. As for readers, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with family and friends and a very good new year.