Giving The Gift Of Crap.

Debt Season is mostly over, and we are facing the credit cards, rather than the music. I’m sorry to keep on harping on about the overconsumption of goods, but—wait. Wait. No, I am not sorry to keep on about this, because I really feel that the massive, mindless purchase of random shit for Christmas (and at other times) has to stop.

At this point, I feel the need to defend myself. I am not an antisocial, friendless radical with doomsday beliefs who reeks of socks and shouts at random passers-by. However, I do consider myself to be an observant and intelligent person, and I saw so many things this ‘festive’ season that I want to change.

I saw people maxing out their credit cards. For no other reason than gifts were expected. Who decided what was expected? How does that make sense? And the recipient’s expectation somehow ranks more important than, say, a good credit rating? Tell me how that makes sense. I dare you.

I saw people buying random gifts just because “Oooh, it’s on sale!” Me, I’m sometimes guilty of this, so I know the ‘reasoning’ behind this one: You have a gift. You saved money. But are you letting your love of ‘on sale’ cloud your judgment of what someone would really love, or needs? Yes. You are. Almost always, because usually, these gifts are going to a person whose needs and wants you have not really considered. They’re there because you budgeted $X for the person, and, look, this is on sale for $X. Your Great Uncle Hubert probably already has ‘Astronomy For Beginners’, since he’s had the hobby for a decade. Even though it was a mere nine bucks in Chapters, that’s no reason to buy it.

I saw people buying gifts to feel loved. This is a tricky one, because there are complex issues involved. But there are people who genuinely believe that if they spend $X on Cousin Whatever, they’ll somehow get $X worth of love from the recipient. We all know it doesn’t work that way. Hell, in some places in this city, I think you can get a twenty-dollar blow job. (I tried to google, but, hoo, that was a nightmare). How does that blow job compare to a couple of candles from Pier 1? I’m not sure. But at least with the blow job, you’re more assured of a return on your investment.

Before you run me down with a pack of reindeer, telling me I’m killing Christmas, let me tell you what I also saw during this ‘Festive Season’.

People sleeping on the street on Christmas Eve. Curled in summer-weight sleeping bags, under cardboard. Shivering.

People begging for change. Begging from yoga-toned Kitsilano matrons and well-heeled businessmen, as well as folks like me, who don’t exactly look like big bucks.

People eating out of garbage cans. Looking for that half-a-bagel or the lukewarm coffee that was going to slow the slide into malnutrition so hard to stave off when you have absolutely no resources.

Why the fuck are people still spending money on unsolicited and unappreciated random piles of stuff? And how can we get people to care more about poor strangers than about ‘traditional’ expectations?

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