I guess no one wrote a new Christmas carol for 2020. However, the lyrics could have included “we’ll all be home for Christmas” and “All I want for Christmas is an Amazon card” .
Some of us skipped the usual holiday niceties.
Who had the money for gifts and decorations? We were all busy raising the stock market and building our toilet paper empires.
This year, if you show up at Christmas without a bundle of toys, you can still tell your presents are stuck in a container in Long Beach.
The tradition of giving gifts has changed in my family, mainly because we are older. We all have credit cards and we know how to push buttons to pop things out of cardboard boxes on our doorstep. If I was trying to guess what my mom really needed or wanted, she probably already has it on her lists online.
Childhood, of course, is another universe. In simpler times, before our phones could talk and people still answer singers’ doors, our parents would let us wake them up before sunrise for “Christmas carnage.” After the big reveal, there was so much trash on the living room carpet that the place looked like a crime scene.
Mom knew we were greedy little elves and we rode the tide of quantity for quality. We feasted on a giant mound of gifts, which took so long to unwrap that my parents needed to drink two cups of coffee before going back to bed. Mom got into the habit of buying basic necessities and wrapping underwear and socks in nice plastic wrap. We did not recycle. Our stockings would be overflowing with toothbrushes, hair clips and pencils.
Hidden among those things that she would buy from us anyway, we usually found our heart’s desire.
Our family has gone through a lot of trends since childhood. During my many years of poverty, I gave gifts and my family claimed they were picturesque treasures. We tried to draw names, buy only for kids, buy only edibles, gift swaps and white elephant swaps.
Last year was the pandemic, and dad was dying of cancer. Many of us haven’t thought about going to the mall.
However, I do remember what it was like to be a kid so I made sure to buy for my niece and nephews, ages 11-15.
Like most children these days, their heart’s desire includes gift cards and even more gift cards. Silver, and even plastic, is always the right size and color.
Do not mistake yourself. I like certain gift cards, as long as they are offered to me.
However, buying children’s gift cards doesn’t fit my aesthetic sense. Plus, they’ll know how much I’ve spent, rather than haggling over purchases and pretending I’m generous.
The mom of the kids worked really hard last year to get the kids to create wishlists on Amazon. I have a prejudice against Amazon because when I want to buy something I like that stores with a front door and a cash register still exist. However, 2020 has been a year of compromise.
The kids approached the wishlist task as though we had asked them to clean the cat litter box. They ignored the repeated texts. If last year had had a shipping bottleneck like 2021, they wouldn’t have received anything at all.
This year we had the same problem, but their mother had to insist on the lists starting on Veterans Day. I was glad I had some clues, but then I took a closer look.
My niece wanted books. Bright girl.
My niece is an artist, so I can understand the joy of seeing a story unfold through images. Yet when I looked at her selections, I wondered if they were called “graphic novels” because of the method of storytelling, or because of the violent content. The girl on the cover of the book looks like she’s leaving the house to fight zombies or join a punk rock band.
All three of my young family members had plush toys on their lists, which could mean cute and cuddly. Of course, these were plush toys for the video games they played while disassociating themselves from adults.
Then there was my youngest nephew, who had eight items on his list, but only two that cost less than $ 200.
I bought the book, the video game, and a stuffed animal. Maybe next year we won’t deal with the list and I will become the aunt who gives out savings vouchers – or gift cards.