Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Monday, in an effort to buy at least a few modest gifts, I went uptown to the Jacques Torres chocolate store. I thought his chocolate would make a nice New York-y gift for my relatives, something they couldn’t get at home. So I bought several mixed boxes and a few odds and ends, and walked out with $87 worth of chocolate in a chic clear bag.
We can debate the morality of paying $87 for chocolate -- I’m not so sure about it myself. But I rationalized it by saying it’s pretty much the centerpiece of my holiday gift-giving this year.
I hauled it back to my office, and then later that evening, I grabbed it and raced off to a meeting of the board of directors for my building. I popped into Starbucks to get some sustenance before the meeting, then went to the office of one of the board members. We met for a couple of hours and then I went home, and realized: I no longer had my bag of chocolate.
Did I leave it at the board member’s office? Or, God forbid, at Starbucks?
As I lay in bed thinking about this, I had my first holiday meltdown. “I hate Christmas!” I muttered. Here I was, compelled by our cultural insanity to go buy junk that no one needs, and then so caught up in the rat race that I lost what I purchased!
I began making vows not just to keep gift-buying simple, but to opt out of it altogether. What would happen if I asked people next year, a few months before the holidays, to skip the gifts entirely?
It’s an interesting idea, I have to admit. But the problem is, gift-giving CAN be fun and fulfilling. The cultural imperative is what’s odious -- the feeling that you HAVE to give a gift, or risk disappointing someone or being branded a cheap selfish bastard.
Fortunately, the next morning, I learned from the other board member that my chocolates were safely in his office, and I picked them up yesterday afternoon. So at least that minor Christmas crisis was averted.
(Photo: Side of a panel truck, East Village, Dec. 2007)