December 10, 2009

I’m just going to come out and ask this. Just what exactly is wrong with materialism? And, in order to really answer that, I must also ask: just what exactly is materialism?

In a little resistance to Black Friday and Christmas shopping in general, you get people self-righteously looking down their noses at the shoppers, sighing that the season has lost its spirit, that people are just materialistic and *gasp* want presents, and are thus slaves to corporations by buying into this whole gift thing, that gifts aren’t supposed to be what Christmas is about.

I talked about something similar already three years ago. Though that was more about specific presents and attitudes towards them. Right now I’m referring more generally.

People like giving and receiving holiday gifts, okay? The exchange makes people happy. Getting certain things makes people happy, and the giver is happy to see the recipient happy. Last year when I got back from Disney World, I gave my coworker a coffee mug with the Finding Nemo seagulls on it with the words MINE MINE MINE along the rim, after she had made numerous references to them before, and I’ll never forget the way her jaw dropped and she began laughing so hard when I handed it to her! That was awesome! That there was a genuine moment of joy resulting from, that’s right, giving someone a gift.

Gifts have different meaning. Sometimes they’re useful. Sometimes they’re delicious. Sometimes they’re mentally stimulating. Sometimes they’re funny. Sometimes they’re warm. Hell, sometimes they’re all of the above! I mean, when you complain about holiday materialism, are you saying it’s better you’re laughing because your uncle told a funny joke than because of a joke in a book he gave you? The fact that there was a present involved suddenly makes it hollow and evil? Please!

Alright, alright, I hear you. Christmas is supposed to be about love and family and spending time together as opposed to presents, right? Okay, let’s try that. So your extended family have now all piled into your home. Should you all sit down to a meal or does a desire for food count as materialism? Okay, food is okay. So everybody is eating. Meal took about an hour. Now everyone is gathered in the living room. Everyone is together… Okay, now what? Is everybody loving each other now? All crammed into the living room. Just sitting there, I guess. Are you actually doing anything together? Have anything to talk about? Or have you all already talked about everything you had to say? How about a board game… no, wait, a board game is a material item and those aren’t allowed. Watch TV? Oh, heavens, no! That’s like worshipping Satan! Or, more likely, people are checking their watches and regretting making the trip to your boring ass Christmas gathering! Or you could, you know, have some presents to exchange, something you could watch together on TV, a board or video game you all could play, all to create some activities for you to actually enjoy your time together! ZOMG, I think teh eval materialism has saved Christmas!

Oh, wait, you mean you’re talking about people who care only about the gifts? Again, how so? Maybe the people are all like “just leave the presents and GTFO!” Too abstract. And people have a way of thinking anyone who cares about gifts at all cares nothing about anything else.

I mean, I don’t even know where this resentment of gift-giving even comes from. Sure, hard-core Christians may complain that it somehow detracts from Jesus, forgetting that not only does Christmas actually have very little to do with Jesus to anyone who knows even the slightest bit of backstory about the holiday, but that treating Christmas like it should be nothing more than a church service is really fucking LAME. But what about the non-religious? Why the hatred of gifts? Does it seem like people care too much about something YOU consider to be trivial? Does it seem like people love the item more than the person who gave it? Well, that’s a little silly since, as I mentioned already, loving the item you were given sort of constitutes love for the giver. Gift giving is still person-to-person interaction, which, if I’m not mistaken, is what the gift-haters think is so wonderful.

So you all try to have “fun” with your boring little non-materialistic holiday while I go buy some presents for people. If that makes me materialistic, then I guess I am, but who cares? Stuff is nice. It can be useful, delicious, mentally stimulating, funny, warm, and all of the above!

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