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I never feel like a scrooge until the holiday season is in full effect. Does that make me a scrooge at all other times throughout the year? I’m willing to bet yes. Maybe it’s because I never got that shiny new toy I asked for every Christmas, or maybe it’s because my friend whose toys I coveted more than anything else always got the toy I wanted, and he didn’t appreciate it the way I would have. I’ve stopped asking for Christmas presents because there really isn’t any material item on this planet that I feel right asking somebody to buy for me just so I can a) show it off to my friends, b) use it for practical purposes, and c) eventually put it in a desk drawer only to realize that I never needed it to begin with thus adding to my pile of expensive paper weights that are really just glorified TI-83 calculators. (I’m talking about tablets, cell phones, and anything electronic, really.)

The only thing I’ve even hinted at wanting this year for Christmas is to get my late grandfather’s Navy issued peacoat tailored to fit my shoulders. He was a little bit bigger of a man than I, and as it wears now, it makes me look like one of those guys leaving the gym, flexing, but trying to not look like I am flexing. I don’t like the way it looks on me, but I love the coat. I’m not particularly fond of that flexing-but-notflexing look, never have been, so until then, the coat will hang in my closet next to a plethora of other coats that don’t fit me anymore.

Gift giving around the holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc) seems like such a tedious event. Going to the mall to walk around stores filled with people who begrudgingly hand over wads of cash for things they know will ultimately end up as, like I mentioned, paper weights. Woof. I’d rather eat hibachi swimming in white sauce while humming along to Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.

I can’t think of one item I received for Christmas that I still use, clothes excluded. I’m not saying people don’t give practical gifts, but I never asked for one. It was always the shiny thing that I felt entitled to receive because whoever I was asking for it from was supposed to buy me that toy because… ’tis the season?

I don’t subscribe to that anymore.

Years of lackluster holidays spent alone in an empty apartment with Chinese food have sort of dampened the season for me. The best memory I have of Christmas in recent years was spent with my best friend, Steve Holder, eating the Grand Slam special at a shady Denny’s off a sketchy stretch of road in Denver, Colorado. That was a good day. All we did was drink whiskey and laugh about the past 349 days. I was depressed going into that holiday, and surprisingly chipper waking up on the 26 th .

Maybe it’s because it was the first year where I realized that because I didn’t have much, and didn’t need much, I didn’t really want much. To be honest, it was a very liberating feeling. I gave my close friends gifts that were special to me, and because they were special to me, my friends accepted them with a smile. They were records from my private collection, most of which I scored from years of yard sale scouring on Saturday morning by myself.

In order for me to feel like Christmas meant something, I had to give something away that meant something to me. What a lesson.

Giving money away doesn’t mean anything to me. Trading money for stuff doesn’t hold any special place in my heart. Most of the money I make goes to bills, gas, and food, and the little bit that is left over goes to dates with my girlfriend and beers with my friends.

I guess that’s what’s important to me now – relationships. Is that a growing pain? Seriously, asking for a friend here. Is that something you’ve come to realize? What have you, the people of the Triad who are older than 30 (or younger, would love your feedback, too) concluded about the holidays?

Some people love the process of readying their home for holidays. Some people love shopping. Some people love gift-wrapping. Some people love eggnog by the fire while National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation plays on repeat, or A Christmas Story marathon plays silently on the television. I use those references because those are the films that stick out from my past, and those are the films that remind me of the times where I was with my family waiting for the advent calendar to be finished, or near, so I could open presents.

The memories of the holidays are always the best – better than the actual day – because anticipation is really what we are all excited about. The anticipation to open presents trumps the actual present. The anticipation for Christmas dinner often trumps the meal itself because the conversation is typically spent reminiscing on past holiday and family get-togethers. At least that’s how it is, or was, in my house.

I guess this year I’m looking forward to giving some gifts that I made. I’d love to buy my mom some diamond earrings, but she wouldn’t wear them, nor would she appreciate them as much as a pair of earrings I constructed myself at a local bead shop. My father is a golfer, a damn good one, too, but he’s not going to cry with joy upon unwrapping a Scotty Cameron putter that’s been strategically stuffed inside the tree.

My best memories are warm ones – ones spent with people who are important to me, and ones where it didn’t matter what we were doing or what we were eating. I just long for that warmness, and I guess I’m trying to anticipate that by requesting a fitting coat. !