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The International Writers Magazine: Unwanted Christmas Gifts = Ebay

Is Christmas Shopping Evil?
• Lisa Timmerman

I’ll be frank and use no euphemisms: Christmas shopping is perverse. If you think about it, the idea of actively searching for new things to buy for people that don’t need anything is really kind of sick. Why do we force ourselves – and more importantly, each other – to buy things we don’t need and, let’s face it, probably don’t even want? I don’t have anything against getting something nice for someone we love (including ourselves) from time to time – that is, as long as we still see an actual, practical use in the item we’re buying, and know that it will create a pleasant surprise for the person that receives it.

Sadly, there will never be any (positive) surprises on Christmas or birthdays. That’s because there is no free will or spontaneity involved in trying to assemble everyone’s gifts. We have to get them, and we have to get them for this particular day. Just why again do we still bother? I’d really like to know.

Every year, it’s the same crap. I’ll explain it as simply as I can: we try to make everybody happy at a time when nobody could ever be happy – unless if everyone stopped buying presents and concentrated on just being friendly and thoughtful to each other for a change. Isn’t that already hard enough? Personally, when I ponder about Christmas, I come to think that it’s the attention to each other’s (real) needs and interests that counts, and if we just thought about it for a long, long enough time, we’d realize that there are actually ways of showing this attention other than by simply spending money on gifts.

I can already see them vividly, those masses of people running up and down the High Street or the Mall a day or two before Christmas, shoving and kicking each other out of their way with panic-stricken faces, nearly suffering a heart attack imagining that they still need to buy presents for ten more people. I can hear one lady thinking, "God, I wish I knew how much Greg spent on my present, then I could finally make up my mind about whether to get him that £70 perfume or the £400 watch…" Hell, wouldn’t that be a great premise for a new TV drama? Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, millions of people are worrying about such trivial things as how to get the next ration of food for their children or where to find a safe place to sleep. If they only knew the gravity of human concerns in our advanced Western world! They’d definitely think twice before complaining about issues as petty and tedious as those they are dealing with in their pathetic little lives.

If anybody were interested in my opinion (which, sadly, they’re not), my very wise suggestion would be: try and be generous in other ways for once! Virtually anyone can spend money, even if they don’t have any. Just take a look at my Mastercard bill. There’s really nothing special about spending money on other people, unless it was actual money given to real people in need. But, obviously, nobody is interested in them. ‘Why would we?’ you’ll reply. ‘We don’t know any of those people.’ I get it, you’re too classy for that, aren’t you? To be honest, I just think you’re too busy making yourself look generous and hoping your gift is more impressive than theirs...

© Lisa Timmermann Nov 19th 2007

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