Thursday , December 07, 2017 - 4:00 AM
In this Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, file photo, Janae Melvin shops for Christmas gifts at Forever 21 in Kansas City, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
Christmas gift-giving has evolved over the years to something terribly practical between my husband and me. Our annual discussion goes something like this: “What can I get you for Christmas this year? The reply, “Oh, I don’t know. Just don’t get me anything this year.” Which is absurd because no one in their right mind would let Christmas morning come without a gift for their spouse. Can you imagine that conversation?
“Well, so, that’s everything under the tree then?”
“And all those gifts are yours?”
“And mine are ...?”
“Well, you told me not to get you anything, so I didn’t.”
I just can’t imagine a happy morning rising up from that conversation.
Still, our “What can I get you?” conversation is built squarely on truth. We don’t need anything, don’t want anything, and can’t think of anything to ask for if pressed for an answer. So to solve this dilemma, we’ve resorted to rummaging around in our list of current domestic needs to see if something might match. A recent conversation was about my husband’s upcoming dental appointment. “You can get me a crown for Christmas,” he said. The thought certainly didn’t evoke any Christmas spirit. Plus it’d be tough to wrap.
Last week’s conversation about what present he could get for me ended up centered on our need for new tires for the truck. Our gift giving efforts have evolved to dental crowns and truck tires.
It makes me long for simpler days when my kids were little. Back then, the evolution of a kid’s gift selection process was predictable: Think of it. Decide on it. Ask for it. Think of it some more. Change your mind. Ask for that one instead. Ponder what you’ve done. Realize you wanted the first thing you asked for. Change your mind. Ask for the first thing again.
That is why we wrote letters to Santa. Very early. And we let the child post that letter at the post office while we explained how unretractable letters to Santa are once they’re shoved through that slot.
That’s also why we sometimes listened to the ads and our child’s comments, located and purchased what we thought she or he would want, and then carefully “guided” them when they wrote their letter.
What? You’ve never done this before? Well, once you spend the whole holiday trying and failing to reach the unreachable star of your child’s letter, pondering the reaction of an IOU under the tree, and chasing that unattainable item through your dreams, you’ll happily help your child craft that letter. You’re just saving them from severe disappointment (you can tell yourself).
So back to my present “present” dilemma. We’ve recently discovered an enjoyable alternative. It’s giving gifts to people we don’t know — people we’ll never meet. Organizations, both local and afar, confirm that the need in the world far outweighs the resources. We’re sticklers for where we give so careful research helps us find the right need. And then the giving is simple — and very fulfilling.
A friend recently commented that when he was a child, he thought Christmas was a pretty sweet deal because although it was a celebration of Jesus’ birthday, he was the one who got the presents. That is an honest portrayal of a child’s way of looking at holiday giving.
But adults eventually discover the sublime truth that sincere, earnest gift giving is the real essence of the season. And it sure beats dental crowns and truck tires.
D. Louise Brown lives in Layton.