Saturday, December 12, 2009

Scroogin' it Up

Do you know what I love about Christmas?  I love decorating the tree and the house, spending time with family and friends, traveling (although this has gone from love-of-my-life, pre-child, to bane-of-my-existence, post-child, I love that the holiday season forces me to do it!), eating and drinking too much at too many parties, sparkling lights glowing in the city streets, Christmas carols and festive spirits everywhere.

Do you know what I hate about Christmas?  Presents.

Giving them, getting them, shopping for them, thinking about them, exchanging them, and the fact that they exist as a major facet of the holiday.

Do you know what I got for my 5 month old last Christmas?  Nothing.

Do you know what I got for my 17 month old this Christmas?  Nothing.

Do you know what I got for my husband every year for the past decade plus?  Nothing.  And what did he get me?  Nothing.

Fortunately, we feel the same way about presents.

In fact, let me share a story about the one and only time my husband and I went gambling, and you will understand the shared trait of frugality that has kept us together all these years, huddling under threadbare blankets wearing decade old clothing and bitching about the godforsaken Secret Santa activities at our respective workplaces.

We went to visit his family in Louisiana, where people go to "the boats" for fun and relaxation.  These are riverboat casinos floating just off the shoreline, and therefore not subject to local ordinances against gambling.  We agreed that we would bring $30 to the boats.  While this might seem paltry to some, it was--frankly--more than either of us cared to spend on gambling.  But we rounded up so as not to seem like total spoilsports.  We arrived at the boats, exchanged our money for tokens, and began to wander the casino.

We found we could only play the nickel slots.  Every fourth quarter slot we said:  Oh damn!  That's a dollar!  And then began to daydream about what a dollar could buy.  Many, many things at the Dollar Store, I'll have you know.  And even at the dime slots:  ten dimes in and it was the same sad story.  But at the nickel slots we had to wait twenty turns to complain and our collective attention span isn't quite that long.  Plus, they didn't have penny slots.  So nickel slots it was. 

Until his grandmother (an accomplished and quite lucky gambler who regularly brings home winnings from the boats) approached us joyously and favored us with an enormous double handful of tokens out of her most recent pot of winnings.

He looked at me.  I looked at him.  Our eyes met in a moment of mutual love and understanding and we fled together to the staircase in the hallway, where we carefully counted out $30 in tokens, pocketed it, and then went back to enjoy the fruits of someone else's labor, knowing our own money was back where it belonged: safe in our wallets.  Think what you will, Internet, but that's why my credit score is 750 despite the fact that I have been underemployed for the vast majority of my adult life.  I'm a cheap bastard.  And fortunately, I'm married to one too.

Now, we won't be able to Scrooge it up to our full satisfaction for the rest of our child's days, we realize this.  Withholding presents from a child every year at Christmas while celebrating the holiday in all other ways is probably prevented by the cruel and unusual clause of the United States Constitution.  Which is exactly why we may as well Scrooge it up to our heart's content now, before he develops the powers of recall sufficient to remember what we bought (or in our case, didn't buy) him for Christmas.  This year, he will recieve a large, wrapped package of love.  With a sweet side serving of nothin' at all.

But I might need someone to remind me to erase this blog post before he learns to read.

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