Tuesday, December 07, 2004

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

Well, you know the rest.

There are seventeen shopping days left before Christmas, so any procrastinators out there should be aware that time is ticking away. Yes, if you're curious, I'm addressing myself here as well. I find it hard to shop without an upcoming deadline and the associated pressure to get it done, and that time is rapidly approaching.

It really is beginning to look like Christmas around here. Brandi and I put up our Christmas tree on Sunday evening, and we've been making little tweaks to it ever since. Tonight she brought home some small ornaments shaped like various sports balls, so we put those on there. Next time I'm at my parents' house I plan to try to smuggle out some of my Star Wars ornaments to throw on there, but I don't know if that will happen before Christmas or not.

I have mixed feelings about Christmas in general. I really like the theoretical spirit of the season. You know: peace, love, goodwill towards men, that sort of thing. I do think that this can be a pretty peaceful time. Sometimes I like to sit in the dark with only the Christmas lights on for a few minutes to just sort of meditate. It's very nice.

On the other hand, moments like that are few and far between even during the holiday season. For the most part, I think people get too caught up in the stress and thus have a tendency to be even bigger jerks than usual. Everywhere you go is terribly crowded, and most people don't deal with it gracefully. I think the hassle and stress can really outweigh the theoretical good feelings that the holidays can inspire.

Beyond that, I'm not a big fan of either giving or receiving presents. It's not exactly that I don't like giving gifts, but I don't like the "obligation" of giving a Christmas gifts. I try to keep my list as small as possible--I hear people talk about all the obscure relations and acquaintances they feel they have to buy something for, and it boggles my mind. That's part of the reason I don't really like getting presents, either. If someone doesn't know me very well and just feels obligated to give a gift for one reason or another, it's not likely they're going to give me something I want or need. Even with people that do know me well, receiving gifts makes me nervous. If there's something I want, I generally prefer to just go get it myself, because that way I know I'll get exactly what I want. Mostly, though, I just hate obligation. I don't want to feel like I have to get a gift for someone, and I certainly don't want anyone to feel they have to get a gift for me. All things considered, that's one tradition I would like to see fade into the mists of time. Each year I propose ditching the concept of Christmas gifts, and each year I'm shot down. Let's hear it for the status quo.

Also, as a non-Christian, the Christmas holiday is sort of problematic for me. A couple of years ago I had to sit down and really think about whether or not I could allow myself to continue to celebrate this holiday. I finally came to the conclusion that at this point Christmas is more of an American tradition than it is a religious holiday, and thus I could continue on as I had without worrying too much about being a hypocrite.

I'm glad that was the conclusion I came to. All the irritations aside, this really is a nice time of year, especially on the rare moments when the idealistic notions of what Christmas is supposed to be actually come through. Christmas Day is always a good day to get together with family and have yet another Thanksgiving-type feast and just hang out. I'm looking forward to it, as usual.

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