Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas 2008 isn't over yet

Sometimes I get so into the club stuff that the holiday stuff I do with the club seems more like the holiday than the holiday itself. After the Halloween party on the fourth Saturday of October, I half expect the clearance sales to be the next day, even if Halloween doesn't actually occur until the following Friday. And in recent years I find that I have more to do for the club activities the weekend before Christmas than I actually have to do for Christmas itself.

This year, I had decided that I needed to try to tone down the holiday stuff. I started with Halloween, and decided not to enter the costume contest, but tried out being a judge instead. That went okay. So then I needed to find a way to tone down the Christmas stuff.

Without getting into all the details, my family has decided that due to the economic problems and other changes this year, we would not continue the tradition of buying gifts for everyone in the family, and we would limit the gift buying to about forty dollars. Last year I spent almost that on each person.

And I expect that there will be changes in the coming year that will result in my either having less money or less free time or both. So I've been thinking that I should tell my friends that this might be the last year I do the whole Christmas thing with them. In the past few years, I've enjoyed the unofficial gift exchange with my friends more than the gift exchange with my family, cause I usually have a better idea of what to get for my friends. Except for my sister, I don't really know what the rest of my family wants.

This wasn't always the case. We didn't always exchange gifts. But one year, we just all seemed to get the same idea at the same time, and found something that we just knew that someone else would love to have, and without planning it ahead of time, we just brought presents. So for the past five years or so, this has been a major part of Christmas for me.

As in last week's episode of The Big Bang Theory, there is this whole problem of gift giving, and which friends should you get gifts for, and how much should you spend on each person, and if you get someone else a gift are you expecting to get one in return. To quote Sheldon, "You haven't given me a gift, you've given me an obligation," to try to give the other person "a gift of commensurate value and representing the same perceived level of friendship." It isn't supposed to be like that, you've supposed to just give people gifts because you like giving gifts, but there doesn't seem to be this expectation that there is this exchange of gifts.

There are exceptions. For instance, I expect to get gifts for people who will not be getting me gifts, not because they don't like me but because they have some problem and therefore either don't have the money or the time to go and get gifts. Like I don't expect someone to get me a gift if someone in their family is dying of cancer, but unless I've specially been asked not to, I go ahead and get them a gift, because when I'm out getting all the other gifts I decide that I just don't want them left out. Or if the person is widowed, especially if recently widowed (within this year). Or if they've had major medical bills. Or if they've been out of work. Or if they've had major vet bills. Or if they've had a car wreck. Or if their house was flooded or hit by a meteor.

And my current money situation isn't very good, so I think that I could have begged out of the thing this year. But I really didn't want to. What I wanted to do, was go ahead with it this year, and maybe beg out next year and maybe for a long time after that. But I had already started getting people stuff, and I didn't want to not give those gifts, and I didn't want to get some of them gifts and not give other people gifts. So I got gifts for six of them, knowing that I might only get gifts from two of them. There's someone who was recently widowed, a couple with a lot of unexpected bills, and a buddy who doesn't have a steady job. And then I go ahead and give a seventh gift to a buddy's wife, cause we're friends even though she doesn't usually do club stuff.

And then on top of all that, there is the official gift exchange, and I usually don't end up with anything really cool, but to be fair, I think maybe it has been a while since I've put in anything really cool. I brought Bath & Body Works stuff and took home a DVD collection of Japanese monster movies. But that is just so much fun to watch, since it is like the Chinese gift exchange, and people steal stuff. There was a lot of stealing this year.

Okay, so the recent widow says that she won't be joining us for most of the evening, cause she has to be somewhere else. I got her some bath stuff anyway. I give bath stuff when I don't know what else to do, but in this case I actually know that she prefers bath stuff. I haven't yet made her a scarf or anything like that, cause I'm not sure she'd like it and I can't bring myself to make a scarf for someone unless I'm sure that they would like it. But I'm absolutely sure that she'll use the bath stuff. And she says something about having gifts at home for people, but not having the time to wrap them and such. But I wasn't expecting anything from her anyway.

And then I made a scarf for my buddy who doesn't have a steady job. And he gave us all cards. Really cool cards with blinky lights. We like gadgets and blinky lights.

To the couple with the unexpected bills I gave a scarf and a school art project. This was the main reason I did not want to beg out this year. Every year for the last five years I've given a scarf to one person I thought would really want one, and I still needed to give this last one. So now all of that original group has a scarf, except for the widow and the pilot's wife, and I'll make more for them too if I ever here for certain that they really want one. As for the school art project, this is exactly what the couple would have wanted, if it had been perfect, which I knew that it wasn't, but they didn't seem to notice.

I gave up trying to think what to get for the pilot, so I gave him a DVD for a movie that I found on sale and I really like, and then I gave him a gift certificate to get another DVD from Blockbuster. And then I added a bath thing for his wife, because they don't always have the same taste in movies. He gave everyone knives. Mine is especially sexy.

For K I got a stuffed animal and knitted some leg warmers and arm warmers. She gave me a really cool T-shirt.

And then the pilot and K remembered my birthday. I did not get them anything for their birthdays, but K got me jewelry and the pilot got me some tools. The tools were possibly above the "commensurate value and representing the same perceived level of friendship." But I didn't have extra bath stuff in the car to make up for it.

I've said that I want to be excused from Christmas next year, but this was really a lot of fun. Especially the part where the couple was going on and on about the school art project. But I'm not planning any school next year, I don't think that I'll have much in the way of extra money, and now they all have scarves. I can't knit much other than scarves, and somehow I don't think that the pilot and the other guys want leg warmers.

But my brain is already at work, thinking up different kinds of scarves, and maybe some of them would like painted eggs. I don't think that I've ever given any of them painted eggs.

So that was Saturday. I wasn't going to do the charity thing Sunday, for several reasons. One being that I didn't put anything until the charity thing (except for one dollar when they passed the hat), I didn't do the usual candy stuff so I didn't have a speaking part anyway, I couldn't find some of my costume, and we usually go to dinner afterwards and I knew that I shouldn't spend any more money. So I wasn't going to go, but then I heard that we were going to be short at least three costumed people, so I decided that if I could find enough of the costume that I should go anyway. I didn't find my boots and I didn't find my vest, but I did have my dress and cape and scarf, so I put on just regular shoes and went anyway. Afterwards, the widow offered to buy me dinner as my Christmas gift, so that all worked out okay.

And then the pilot's wife gave me a plant. I like plants, though unfortunately it seems like I end up killing most of them that I receive as gifts. She said that I'm the only one who remembers her as a separate person and gives her a separate gift at Christmas, so she got me a separate gift too. Hardly necessary, especially after the expensive tools, but a nice surprise anyway.

So that was all really great. And it isn't really Christmas yet.


dmarks said...

If I don't ask what a sexy knife is, I am sure someone else will.

bulletholes said...

Sexy knife?
Cuts through underwear I'm sure!
Or maybe it was a Meat Clevage!
Or a Boning Knife!

Glad you had fun!

laughingattheslut said...

The Jackal would count as a sexy knife

And while not really a knife, perhaps the Bat'leth and other swords count as a sexy knives. Knifes with inlaid metal or jewels are sexy. And blades with dragons are sexy.

So I now have a knife with a custom made handle, inlaid with metal and small gemstones, and my initials carved on it. It is suitable for wearing with ren fest costumes.

dmarks said...

Cool. I've seen knives like that at tables at flea markets. The blade is definitely familiar.