Personally, I dig the commercialization of Christmas.
Oh, I know that sounds sacrilegious, but I assure you my family's celebration is firmly rooted where it belongs. We'll bundle the kids up and take them to church, we keep the baby Jesus out of the nativity scene until Christmas morning, and my three-year-old even wants to put up Happy Birthday signs for Jesus. We know whose holiday it is - but thanks for asking.
I just don't think it's wrong to buy presents for people you love.
Now, granted, that's kind of hypocritical given that eleven months out of the years I'm the most miserly man in America. You want a true conservative revolution in Washington? Put me in charge of the budget. Last year my wife needed new mittens to replace a pair she lost in the middle of our Milwaukee winter. She got them - the next April, when they were 75% off. Heck, if I could figure out how to remove the racing stripes I'd reuse my kids' diapers. A bucks a buck.
Just not in December.
A loyal reader took me task for this recently. "Christmas is for kids," she said. "I don’t ever want to hear you complain about money again." Then, her nose firmly in the air, she went on to say that she'd bought gifts for her entire circle of family and friends, including her ever expanding brood of kids, for under two hundred dollars.
While I'm sure the thrift shop appreciated her business, that's not for me.
For starters, there are the six nieces and nephews, teachers, crossing guard, godparents, Christmas cards, my immediate family, and co-workers.
Come December I don't have time to be cheap. I'm too busy shopping.
And I don't really mind. There's something to be said for hoarding all your base impulses and then releasing them on the local shopping mall. It's like the glorious day when you abandon your diet and hit the ice cream stand. Your capacity for the activity seems endless, and you wonder why you ever thought of stopping. All vestiges of self-restraint are gone, and while you may regret it in the morning, for the time being it's open season.
The only bump in the road seems to be my children's gifts. My wife and I believe that the biggest, best toy should be from Santa, with smaller more practical presents addressed from Mom and Dad. That way they learn to disdain us early in life, making the transition to their teenage years that much smoother. The problem stems from having to define the biggest, best toy.
Is it the $75 V-Smile game system, which they'll love but looks boring in the box and will be greeted with a yawn? Or is it the three- foot tall Elmo doll, $60 cheaper but guaranteed to bring shouts of glee the moment it's opened?
And there's the question of parity. The gifts for both girls should be roughly equal in value, but must break down into identical number of gifts, lest one of my divas believe themselves slighted. Theoretically an easy thing to do, the practice is nearly impossible. It's much easier to shop for a three year old with a history of likes and dislikes than for a one year old whose favorite activity is dumping whatever glass of liquid is left in within her reach.
All this may sound overboard, but with my meager earnings they're far from spoiled the rest of the year. They deserve a special Christmas and doggone it they're gonna get one this year.
Merry Christmas to one and all.