Let me preface this with the caveat that I’m not a Grinch…not really.  But, there are certain holiday traditions that seem, well, outdated and irrational.  I’d like to address those and ask only that my readers consider changing their behaviors if they see worth and validity in my arguments.  In a nod to the egotistical Bill Mahr, I present:

New Rules for the Holidays:

1.  Stores that put out Christmas decorations before November deserve a boycott.  Every year, the Christmas product-placement and sales start earlier and earlier.  Not too long ago, I joked that Christmas crap would appear on shelves in July.  Unfortunately, this year, I was not that far from the mark: Michael’s had decorations in their stores at the end of August.  I understand that some retailers count on the shopping season for up to 40% of their sales, but snow globes in 90 degree heat seems a tad ridiculous (unless you live near the equator).

2.  Paper holiday cards ought to become extinct.  Not just because they are complete waste of resources (2.65 billion cards are sold in the US and most of those wind up in the trash), but also because the tradition doesn’t make much sense.  Do you really need to wish a written “happy holiday” to a friend whom you’ve probably already verbally expressed such sentiments to?  And what about the people you rarely talk to? If you cared about them, wouldn’t you actually be communicating with them on a regular basis?  Besides, if you do feel the need to send out some family photo or update, do it via email or some other electronic form; it’ll cost you less and is good for the planet.  What if the recipient doesn’t use email? Then chisel out some cuneiform on a tablet welcoming them to the 21st century.

Saturnalia!

3.  Gift card swapping is inane–don’t do it.  Not to sound too much like Sheldon here, but what sense does it make for me to give my dad a $25 Bob Evans card only to receive a $25 Best Buy card from him?  This is axiomatically ridiculous on the face of it.  I think it is much better to…

4.  Make a gift that actually means something for the recipient.  Sure, not everyone is a craftsman extraordinaire, but you don’t have to be.  With the digital age, one can make great CDs (or MP3 mixes), photo-books (through websites), or even video compilations (perhaps of one’s favorite viral YouTube clips).  Occasionally one might even be able to buy a thoughtful gift off the shelf, but I have found that I cherish the more non-commercial variety of gifts.  Of course, if you have any kind of artistic, carpentry, or baking talent, you’ve got it made!

5. Don’t shove/pepper-spray/trample fellow shoppers—it’s kind of against the whole holiday spirit thing.  I hate driving anywhere near a mall, let alone going into a chain store from “Black Friday” though January 5th or so.  People are rude, uncivilized, and even more self-centered than usual.  Even when you wish a sardonic “Merry Christmas” to some personal-space invader, the irony of your wit is undoubtedly lost on them.  Commercialism has ruined the holidays for me (since high school or so), and though I try not to be a sourpuss, I just can’t seem to help complaining about the materialistic-obsessed DBs.

Despite what you must think by now, I really am an idealist at heart (it’s simply buried under a few layers of cynicism born out of experience).  My perfect holiday?  Spending time with my family, playing some games, eating some good food, and swapping a gift or two that are unique and meaningful to each person.  (Doing this on a warm beach would be gravy).

So to all my kind readers out there: happy holidays, and may they bring exactly what you hope for.

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