Friday, December 19, 2008

Have Yourself a Zero-Sum Christmas

We can all admit it: the Christmas holidays make everyone bonkers, make everyone's credit card bills skyrocket and clutter our highways and roads and malls with rabid shoppers who only rise from their dank homes once a year to purchase that gold-plated can opener for that relative they hate. We're spending too much time and money on others, trying to guess what they want for Christmas - and inevitably purchasing things they either own and don't want or don't own and don't want or don't need and want to return to the store - instead of spending the right amount of time and money on ourselves, knowing exactly what we need and want.

So what is more appropriate in a year of economic turmoil but to borrow a term from that Economics text book you never cracked (and probably paid some student-from-an-Asian-country to take the class for you) to set the holiday right: we need to start practicing a Zero-Sum Christmas. Here's how it works. Everyone collectively agrees we don't get the shit we really want. We collectively agree everyone else has crap taste and wouldn't know what a nice sweater looked (and fit) like if Marc Jacobs, forty virginal Italian seamstresses and a herd of golden sheep walked into their house and knit them one. We collectively agree that we aren't drinking nearly enough as we should and need to stay out of our cars and off the road and in front of the stove with a bottle of scotch, aged exactly 15 years (because as we all know, anything older than 15 years is already over-ripe). We collectively agree that the Malls are full of children and ugly women and germs and tone deaf people wearing red aprons who ring a bell to make us feel guilty about the poor, which doesn't work because we are Americans and incapable of feeling guilty about anything or anyone.

Let me give you a personal example. Take me and a "friend" of mine, who I will give the fake name of "William Russell Thomas, Esquire." He wants a pair of hockey skates for Christmas that costs $500. I want a hooker for Christmas that costs $500 (she spends the night, washes the bed sheets and makes a wicked tomato omelet). Now, I don't know that he wants those ice skates (he and I don't talk because he's a raging asshole) and he probably figures I want a hooker but isn't sure what variety I'm going with this time around (he doesn't know I'm in a Chinese-American mood this month). So instead of me buying him a gift he doesn't need, like a lawnmower, and him buying me a gift I don't need, like a three-month stay in a rehab clinic, he buys himself the skates, I phone up my "escort," we mentally tell ourselves that these gifts came - in a spiritual sense - from each other … and we're both happy as clams on December 25th. We have the same amount of debt because we both spent the same amount of money, but we got what we wanted. We both win. And because we both win, neither of us has to put our gifts in the attic (though I should probably get a blood test in a few weeks).

This is really the way to go for everyone, whether everyone is too fucking dense to figure it out or not. Disappointments will be a thing of the past. No one will be bitter with each other during the opening of presents, and that way we can spend the day in peace and harmony, not worrying about travelling from relative's house to relative's house. We will still be burdened with massive debt and helping the economy and fighting terrorism. "But wait, Matt," you counter, "what about the children, those precious beams of light shot down from outer space from the eyeballs of the Almighty Lord and Savior Upon High? They don't have any money so they can't buy themselves anything! They'll be left out! Do you have an answer for that?" I say screw those virus-tainted turds. They can't buy us adults anything anyway. They should be grateful they weren't forcibly removed from their mothers' wombs with rusted tools or squat-thrusted into an old sock. When they see their elders picking themselves off the floor from the liquor they bought themselves or notice their older brothers and sisters awake from their night of smoking weed they scored for themselves, that will only make them that much eager to grow up, behave themselves, earn a decent income and stop believing in those fat men in red suits who give them toys for free and only want to be paid in cookies. They really want to be paid in blood. And once more Christmas will be for the working types, and those depressed enough to realize they need a satisfying Christmas more than greedy eight-year-olds.

Happy Holidays to All! (* but especially to those who let me sleep until noon)