Don’t Give Christmas Gifts: The Preamble

Believe it or not, I have a few crackpot notions.

This doesn’t mean I’m a crackpot. A crackpot is someone who manipulates all small talk and social occasions into opportunities to practice their crackpottery.

A crackpot notion is just an opinion or practice you are fervent about that makes perfectly nice people blink in surprise when you present it to them. They feel nonplussed and usually try to humor you.

The difference between a crackpot notion and being a crackpot is the difference between an opinion and an identity. For example:

My mother is a full-blown terminal crackpot. She believes in any and all quackery: reflexology, homeopathy, putting tapwater in jars and wrapping mylar colored filters around it to create medicines based on color. She even had a machine, perhaps still has it, that she puts a Polaroid picture of someone into one side of it and an aspirin in the other side of it, and that cures a headache. She also would put a photo and laxative in it to try to punish neighborhood teenagers. She is interested in nothing but her crackpottery.

No matter what you serve for dinner, something will make her nauseuous, allergic or the beets will have a bad aura. If your kid has the sniffles, she’ll yank out her homeopathic Materia Medica and start interrogating you about your kid’s left nostril snot texture so she can decide whether to dose your brat with heparus sulphurus or malleus maleficarum.  And yes, whether there’s more snot in the left or right nostril is a diagnostic indication. She always carries her travel kit of 200 different vials of sugar pills labeled with hocus pocus homeopathic names.

There is no chance that any interaction you have with my mother will not end up with you dumped into her crackpotty.

Now that we’re clear that I am not my mother, here’s my crackpot notion:

Resolved: The Christmas gift-giving tradition is pernicious and should be abandoned. Christmas gifts are bad for you, emotionally, ethically, societally and economically. Whether ’tis better to give or receive–these are distinctions without a difference when it comes to Christmas gifts. It all sucks. So just stop. Every Christmas gift you give or receive diminishes you as a human being, corrupts your children into little stuff-vampires, worsens your relationships with everyone and distorts the economy.

As crackpot notions go, this one isn’t that far outside the pale, since 90% of men agree with me, secretly, silently, cravenly.

I will be elaborating on this crackpot notion in a series of posts where I will try to avoid the F-word and the C-word and the S-word and all the other words that are now known by their Sesame Street names. This will be Print-friendly.


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