It started in November. I asked the kids what they wanted for Christmas and was told,
“just give us money.” “No gifts?” I asked. “No, just money.” “A gift card?” “NO, just MONEY!”
It made me sad. Then it made me mad.
I’m not Christian, but I love Christmas. I love the joy of the season, the unselfishness, the process of choosing a gift for someone, something that says you love that person, something they’ll cherish, look at and remember you, and remember that you took the time to choose it just for them. I admit to doing a last minute “holy shit, I gotta get a gift for SoAndSo” thing, but even that shows that you’re at least thinking about the person.
I felt like an ATM. I felt used. I lost any small amount of Christmas spirit I had managed to gather, watched it sink into the well of darkness that’s always waiting for me.
We always get a tree. I decorate the house. I buy gifts and bake cookies that we don’t eat, and make candy to give away, and generally just fill the house with love and joy and peace. This year, I couldn’t manage it.
I told the Bear, finally. He said that it was easier this way, that we could just hand them money and be done. ATM. I’m not a fucking ATM.
I gave in. But I saw his face when I said I didn’t want a tree.
And so we got a tree. And I found some joy. I got gifts for him, and from him. The kids got their cash. ATM. May they have joy of it, may they someday realize that there’s more than getting, there’s also joy in giving. Somehow I don’t think they ever will.