When it comes to gift-giving I’m arguably among the worst. Hell, I don’t even know if it’s arguable. My version of Christmas presents goes like this: “Hey, y’all. In lieu of gift-giving, I’ll pay my bills for this month and pretend it was all y’all chippin’ in. Everyone here, feel free to do the same and pretend we just got one of the most pragmatic gifts one could get. Each and every time you flip a light switch, run a bath, or use the WiFi, be reminded of your wonderful (and definitely not cheap) friends. Happy Holidays and thanks for the monthly pet medicine!” 

Because c’mon: Do I really have the patience to wade through an “in real life” Amazon.com (which used to be called stores, but it may have changed — it’s been awhile) and go, “Taylor isn’t a candle guy, is he? Do guys like candles? Have I ever seen one in his apartment? I feel like I might have, which means he doesn’t need one, right? Or does it mean he may be starting a collection to which I could contribute? This is rather silly. I probably shouldn’t get a candle. Or maybe I should, to jumpstart something he might really enjoy once he gets going? Am I overthinking this? I gotta think about that a little later, as I’m busy thinking about Taylor’s maybe or maybe not candle problem at the moment.” And only another moment later, my squeaking cart turns into the bathmat aisle in which I ponder the nature of what my friend’s wet feet like stepping onto. Does Emily prefer the super-soft shag-style rug? How big is her bathroom? What if her husband hates the color? Wait: Would it even match their bathroom? I’ve never used the master. Okay, wait again: Is a bathmat a Christmas present?

So the squeaky cart, empty as I’d found it, gets put away — as do any of my ambitions as a gift-giver. In truth, I was always the kid at Christmas who didn’t care to peek at the meager offerings under our plastic, foot-tall tree. Even worse was getting gifts from obviously monied people who would show up in charity to stare at me, embarrassed as all get-out as I opened something that was more Barbie than the remote-controlled truck I’d quietly lusted over during commercials. I kinda feel like I might do that to someone. “It’s the thought that counts.” Psshyeah. But when I leave and they end up regifting or Goodwilling that amazing garlic press, the thought winds up just another pointless pinch from my wallet. 

So it’s not so much that I’m “bah humbug” or anything. I just want you to have what you want. We’re adults now. Let’s just pay our bills. (Also: Is a bathmat a gift? Asking for a friend.)

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