...and I don't really care. Gift certificates will be snagged; perhaps a batch or two of cookies baked. Beyond that, you're on your own, world.
It's not just a backlash against materialism or a questioning of the religion that I was raised in. Let me back up. To Christmas Eve, 1971.
My mother fussed over holiday details. The cookies, the dinner, the decorations, all fell into place by December 23, in time for our Christmas Eve gathering. She stayed up late, fussing with this and that, then rearranging the tinsel on the tree.
Excitement propelled me downstairs. "What are you doing up?" she asked.
She smiled, then continued with her fussing.
I played with one of my new dolls and then noticed that the little hand of the clock pointed to the twelve, and the big one to the one. "Mom, is it Christmas now?"
"Yes, it is." We hugged and wished each other Merry Christmas, and gazed at her tree. Somehow, I got back to bed and to sleep.
We didn't know that it would be her last. Six months later, almost to the day, a heart attack claimed her life.
We lurched into December 1972, staggering around the hole left by her leave taking. Much of it fell to my siblings. Dad unsuccessfully tried to cauterize the raw wounds with Scotch. An innocent question lead to getting dragged out to the kitchen by my forearms and a lecture about how it was my fault because I'd wanted a bike for my birthday.
I stayed close to my sister the rest of the night.
She went back to her apartment. My brother graduated and moved 700 miles away.
By the time I was in junior high, the Christmas mantle had been dropped on my head. Along with hints that it would disappoint my grandmothers if the house wasn't decorated, and that it was all my fault if my siblings didn't play nice with each other.
So I tried and tried, and tried some more, to create the perfect holiday and conjure the perfect presents (many of which went to Goodwill) and be the consummate hostess as my mother had been. Too many gatherings featured screaming, the niece and nephew bouncing off the walls, and The Spouse feeling coerced into celebrating a holiday he didn't believe in (we're different ethnic and religious backgrounds).
A "thank you" would have been nice. An acknowledgement would have been great.
Finally, when my niece and nephew grew to the same age I had been when the holidays had been dumped into my lap, something went off in my head. It was unrelated to the kava kava that I popped like chocolate to say calm that year. Wait a goddam minute: when I was their age...
The Spouse and I bowed out the next year. We on a short getaway and gave gift cards so people could pick out their own presents. I went into January rash free and much calmer.
So, my gentle readers, if you need me that day, I'll be here at home with The Spouse. We'll be watching our gift to each other, "The Tudors" complete set. I'll make a nice dinner for the two of us. You'll be fine. So will we.