So I got into a Facebook debate vaguely about politics yesterday.
Yes, I know, I know.
A friend had asked about referring to a party around this time as a “Holiday Party” or “Christmas Party.” I weighed in and said that, simply, to me I didn’t see any real downside to being inclusive and calling it a Holiday Party, but I didn’t much care either way. Proceeded to debate with someone who felt the opposite, that by management calling a party a Holiday Party, they were tacitly forbidding employees from celebrating Christmas or referring to Christmas. I definitely understand the point, and I think proper communication is key there to ensure no one is excluded.
But I definitely can’t really wrap my head around the idea of “The War on Christmas.” As I understand it (and I’ll admit Sunday School was a long time ago), Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. A key part of this story is that there was no room at the inn, and so Mary had to give birth in the barn. Now I’ve always read that as a bit of a morality lesson on being inclusive, on inviting people into your home, into your lives, and sharing with them whatever you can.
So it doesn’t quite equate to me when some folks don’t want to invite others into their holidays. I get that you might celebrate Christmas, and want to say that, but wouldn’t you rather try to celebrate the season with as many people as possible? Share the joy and camaraderie and glad tidings? The way I do that is by saying Happy Holidays, personally. It invites everyone in to celebrate, but it also doesn’t exclude me or anyone else from Christmas. I’m not angry if someone says to me Merry Christmas - I sure as Hell celebrate it, even though I can’t say I’m overly religious.
But I do get angry when someone insists on it. When I worked retail I had more than a few people reply to my “Happy Holidays” with a pointed, slightly angry “Merry CHRISTMAS!"
I get that people want to protect their holidays and their right to celebrate how they choose. I’m not advocating for anyone to ban anything or force anyone to do anything. I just don’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to invite others to celebrate others, why they wouldn’t wish them glad tidings in a way that makes them feel included?
So that’s why I say “Happy Holidays” generally. I’m not saying anyone else has to. But why not? In some ways I think it’s most in the theme of the season.
So I suck at gift giving. I’ll admit that straight off the bat. I love doing it, but I just suck at coming up with ideas.
I mean I have lots of great ideas. But they’re all huge and decidedly expensive. Sudden trips. Big gestures. And whatnot. But, I’ll try to share what I think I know.
1. Give something they wouldn’t get themselves. There are often things we want but that we might think are frivolous, or silly. A gaming themed throw rug. A giraffe print. Even something as simple as a computer game. Think about what the person might want, but might not want to buy themselves, or might not know they want. I’ve always thought about getting my Dad an iPad. It’s frivolous, and he doesn’t need it, but he has taken to using my Mom’s well, and I’ve thought it could open up a lot of worlds for him. Of course, I don’t have that kind of cash, and he would tut tut at the expense, but it’s the kind of thing he’d never ask for, but I think he’d enjoy.
2. Give something they will use. A practical gift isn’t always a bad thing. I’d love a good pair of socks right now! I’ve gotten Klutzy a journal in the past which she uses daily. We got my mother an iPad that changed her life basically, and ditto for an iPhone. Something unexciting isn’t always the end of the world. It all depends on the person. You can’t always get them the most insightful, precious thing ever. And there’s nothing wrong with something that says “I know you can use this.”
3. Avoid clothes. Clothing is a very personal matter, and it’s something that’s very hard to capture. Someone’s size and personal style can be shifting constantly. A too small or too large gift can depress. The exception here is accessories. A scarf, gloves, a hat, these things can vary and work. Of course this all goes out the window if it’s someone you know REALLY well, but even then, tread lightly. I would be very wary about buying Klutzy anything. While I think I know her style well, I’m not sure I’d be able to pick out something that she’d like. Now, a scarf or purse, though that I could do.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask. Most people won’t give you a list, but I think many will happily offer a suggestion, or a general theme. You can get around being too explicit by asking questions like “What are you in to lately?” Maybe they’ve taken up a hobby that you can support! Or maybe they’ve been thinking about it and you can help start them off.
5. Give gift receipts. Even the best gift ever may not work, or they may get two, or it may not quite be to their taste. Get a give them a gift receipt. Don’t be ashamed or angered if they do end up returning your gift. The joy is in the gifting itself, not the expectation of repayment or something like that. You won’t always get it right, but if you give something honestly, and try your best, they will be grateful.
Well, that’s about all I know! Now if anyone has any suggestions for my wife, I’m all ears...
Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. My favourite, really. I think this is because I tend to embrace things. If I like something I go full steam into it. When I find a new show I love I'll watch it religiously, go read up about it, go follow the stars on Twitter, all that jazz. And I'm the same way with both Halloween and Christmas. I love both holidays!
But Christmas is often a tough time for me. It's always been busy as all Hell. When I was working retail it meant lots of hours and lots of shifts. Now at the office it's one of our busiest times of the year, sending our client gifts and finalizing things before the new year. The days fly by and I rarely have a moment to sit back and enjoy them.
So this year I decided I was going to take my moments to be #merryasfuck. I started the Christmas music every chance I got a few weeks ago. We put up decorations outside and in. And I got a fun Christmas themed mug at Homesense for work.
Sometimes it's about choosing how you're gonna feel, and going from there. I'm still nervous. There's still plenty of stress in my life. But I'm going to do my best to choose to be merry whenever I can. Put on Christmas music in the car. Play it quietly at work. And write about Christmas, right here!
I think this might be the best Christmas yet.