I've done a fair amount of driving in mall-laden suburbia over the past few days. And you know how I was all happy about the humanization of the food service experience on Thanksgiving Day? Well, that happy holiday mood went out the window on Black Friday, and it has been stomped to pieces since then. Oh, the honking and swearing and cutting off and rush rush rushing! It makes me want to cry. And occasionally, makes me want to step on the accelerator and slam into the side of that woman who is busily screaming and swearing at me for something that is half her fault and half the fault of the woman in front of me, and the murderous anger upsets me even more than the sadness.
I handed out free samples at the mall on Friday. I'll just let you just imagine what that was like. And I've been working every day since then, and the magical tingle of that holiday Thursday is completely, utterly gone. Everyone is in a hurry, now. And grumpy.
I'll let you in on a secret: I hate Christmas shopping. There is such a negative, "must buy", rushed, demanding, and forced spirit to the whole holiday shopping experience. I feel like we've turned Christmas into the absolute antithesis of the person whose birthday we are meant to be celebrating. I hate being forced to buy so many things at one time. I hate trying to force inspiration to strike again and again as I seek out those perfect gifts. Every once in a while, in the middle of the summer, I'll be in a store and something will just jump off a shelf at me screaming someone's name. So I buy it for them, but I am completely incapable of keeping it in a closet until Christmas, which leaves me both giftless and inspirationless when the holiday arrives. And that's just the gifts. The gifts, on their own, would just be an inconvenience. But coupled with the stressed-out shoppers and drivers, the whole gift-buying part of the holiday season just gets me down.
It doesn't help that I'm completely broke this Christmas. Jeremy has been out of work for months, and as much as I love my job, it's not exactly what my law school loans anticipated when they dug me the huge debt-hole that I am currently living near the bottom of. I don't buy myself things. I do spend my tips on things like spending time with friends, and I try not to feel guilty about that, because I need that for my sanity, and they are tips, which implies a certain permission for frivolity. Every penny of my paychecks goes straight to my student loans, and even then it's not enough, so our savings has been shrinking every month to make up the difference. This month, it will reach zero.
So honestly, I don't want Christmas to come this year. Every gift that I receive will just be an additional helping of guilt, to add to living under someone else's charitable roof and eating someone else's food for going on a year, now. You eventually get dulled to that, because there is nothing you can do about it, but Christmas present opening time is so much more in your face. I want to skip out of the whole thing. Both of our families keep asking me for wish lists. I finally succumbed to Jeremy's parents and gave them a list of clothes I need for work. I don't know what else I need. I told my mom she could get me a new memory card for my digital camera, which I think of as sort of a "need" because without it, the camera is just a paperweight. What I really want for Christmas is the removal of obligation. Tell me that you'll be happy with a hand-made card and a plate of Christmas cookies. Buy yourself something that you want, and put my name on the card.
But I know what will happen instead. People will buy me gift cards, ostensibly so I can pick out what I want for myself, but really, because they don't know what to get. (Which is fair, since I don't know what to get for me, either.) But I'll let you in on another secret: I hate gift cards even more than I hate Christmas shopping, and almost as much as I hate holiday shoppers with cars. Every gift card in my wallet is like another item on my to-do list, another burden to be borne. I need to find exactly the thing that I want, at exactly that store, that costs exactly that much money. Gift cards stress me out, because I have to keep track of which stores I need to get to, and how much I have to spend there, how much extra I need to spend to squeeze the last few pennies out of the card so I can finally throw it away. And I can't use them to pay for rent or buy an evening out with friends, or even to get the thing that I found that I wanted more that costs less at the store next door. As impersonal as money is, at least it doesn't tell me how to spend it. And I can use it at a thrift store, which is a huge bonus for me. I can never seem to bring myself to spend $30 on a pair of pants when I know I can get pants for $6 at a thrift store. If only thrift stores had gift cards.
Wow, this entry sure has been a bundle of positivity, hasn't it? Alright, let's try and see if we can turn it around a bit. I've been toying around with the idea of making a blogging wish list here, which started as a meme that has been making the rounds of my blog roll. Basically, it's a list of things that I would like that my readers may possibly be able to do something about at little to no cost to themselves. And, since I'm on the topic of not wanting to make wish lists, I think I'll go ahead and do that now. I thrive on irony.
- I wish my blog would make me money. It's not the primary reason I write, of course, but it sure would be a nice side effect. I have ads on my website, and in case you were wondering, I don't make any money off of those ads just being there. I only make money if you actually click on those ads and go visit my sponsors. And, in the nine months that I have had those ads up there, I have yet to make enough money for Google to cut me even my first check. I'm about halfway there, though, and if people started clicking on just one ad every time they came to visit, I might just get a check sometime before 2009. If you can't see my ads, consider disabling ad-block just for my page every once in a while. Really, my ads aren't so bad. They're kindof amusing actually, because Google tries to match the content of the ads to the content of my entries. It's fun to see what Google thinks I might be interested in sometimes.
- I wish I had my own domain and a self-hosted blog. It might not seem like much to most of you, but I know that some of you understand the desire for full artistic control and access to the database of your blog. If nothing else, I would like to not have to trust a free service, who owe me nothing from a legal standpoint, with all of my archives. (And the answer to the question you are about to ask is, no, I don't have them all backed up on my hard drive. I'm a stupid, lazy person.) If my website ever starts making me any money, I will be able to afford to do this, but right now I can't. In the meantime, though, I bet someone else will snatch up the domain I want, which was actually still available the last time I checked. Does anyone have a hosting service that lets them register multiple domains, not all of which have been used? 'Cause that would be a pretty sweet gift.
- I wish I was famous. Okay, maybe not exactly famous, but I do like being read. It makes writing so much more meaningful. Do you know someone who you think might like my blog? Referrals are lovely gifts.
- I wish for feedback. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Comments are like gold stars on a blogger's chart of life. Commenting occasionally would be a lovely, lovely gift. Even if your comments are just things like, "I feel the same way about red lights!" or, "Ew, you like egg nog?" or, "Oh man, my brother did the same thing!" Comments fill my inbox and make me feel loved.
Now that I've posted my blogging wish list, feel free to post your own, either on your own blog or in the comments here. The internet is a lovely place, and there are so many cost-free ways for us to show our love. And it sure is nice to be able to give a gift you know you can afford!