I did not shop on Thanksgiving. I did not shop on Black Friday. In fact, I've taken all of November off. And I'm thinking of making December a shopping-free month, too. When it comes to gift giving, I've become a regular Ebenezer Scrooge.
Despite my love of literary antiheroes, I diverge from my Dickensian soul mate when it comes to children. There is a magic to the winter season that all children have the right to lap up and blanket themselves in, often culminating with a nod to a supernatural spirit and a gift in their tiny hands. I would not dare detour from that gold mine of childhood glee and memory-making, no matter how cranky my constitution.
But buying for adults, ugh! Gift buying for adults should be banned. A crime punishable by a year of hard labor in Santa's elf factory, no matter your religion. Or age. Or height. Or pointiness of shoe.
The act of adult gift giving puts unnecessary burden and stress on an already chaotic season. The money! The crowds! The time-suck! The traffic-induced bouts of homicidal rage that leaves you feeling justified in cutting off Rudolph and flipping him the bird!
Below are my five rules for adult gift buying, immediately implementable for a happier, merrier holiday season, guaranteed. Go ahead and try it.
1) A $5 limit for presents. Over the years (centuries?), we've developed a ridiculous depth-of-love-to-cost-of-gift ratio. If that ratio held any merit, we would all be incensed at receiving anything less than our own tropical island from our mothers. Seeing as my mommy has yet to buy me a palm tree, let alone an island, I'm left to assume this algorithm is out of rhythm.
Why are we engaging in the stress of buying expensive presents with money that we may or may not have? It's absurd. An absurdity that reaches its nadir in the exchange of gift cards, both parties subjecting themselves to the horrors of mall crowds, simply to be in the same place they were when they started shopping. Only angrier. And curious as to how long it will take to spend their new $50 gift certificate to Burger King.
2) Location, location, location. No more running to different stores across town, getting dinged by motorists in the parking lot and getting unintentionally groped by fellow shoppers, only to find out the last whatchamacallit was nabbed by that jerk who just dinged your car. Enough. You may only buy a present from a place where you already are shopping. For example, if you are grocery shopping, pick up a bouquet of flowers. A pretty color of hair dye for your friend who is starting to go gray. Goldfish crackers. A fish-shaped container to hold the Goldfish. If you're getting your oil changed, why not pick up an air freshener for Mom's car or a silly bumper sticker for your sister? If you're at a strip club ... well, take some time to ask yourself why you're at a strip club. And then look to see whether there is a gift shop.
3) That's an unwrap! Enough already with the measuring and the taping and the cutting and the folding. Nothing says "No, really, I was thinking about you this holiday season" better than handing over a present wrapped in birthday paper because you ran out of your snowman print. If you want your gift to remain a surprise until it is time to commence the exchange, stuff it under your shirt, or hold it behind your back. Better yet, leave it in your car until it's time for the present exchange. Use your saved wrapping paper to keep the Yule log burning.
4) No shipping. Birds may migrate south for the winter. Presents do not. It's time to implement a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to couriers. It's just one more line to endure and one more expense to incur. If you want a present but live far away, move closer. If a U-Haul is not in your future, please accept my call or card or email or Facebook status update as proof that I care.
5) There's an exception to every rule: alcohol. If you intended to buy me a bottle, please ignore all previous rules. Since my sweet angel graduated into the terrible twos, I've grown fond of keeping wine in the fridge. As with a secret agent and his suicide pill, you hope the evening won't come to that, but man, it helps to survive the tantrums just knowing it's there.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.