My Gift To You; A Great Idea

It’s that time again! Every year you watch/listen to me balk at holiday gift-giving. Or rather, holiday shopping which is essentially holiday crap consumption. It’s a long-standing tradition for me now. Put up a tree, hang some lights, climb upon a high horse and begin passing judgment. Criticism instead of caroling. Sneer instead of cheer. In one form or another, I imply you’re all doing it wrong and by design, you can’t help yourselves. You’re nodding in agreement if you’ve been hanging around here for more than one December.

There were years I openly railed against the obligatory consumerism and then in more recent years I evolved a bit. More recently I held my tongue and tried not to shit on everyone else’s holiday. I made sure I let you know how hard I was holding back but nonetheless I made the effort. And then I went ahead and gave gifts.

Yep, regardless of how vocal I was or wasn’t, I still gave gifts to loved ones ergo every year I remained conflicted. How to practice what I preach without abstaining from festivities? How to participate without being a hypocrite? How to lead by example and still not be a Scrooge? I tried an assortment of compromises. One year everyone got secondhand gifts. One year everyone got handmade gifts. One year everyone got rocks. No kidding, I really did wrap stones and give them as gifts. I even shipped them across the country. All of it felt a little better than the holiday status quo but none of it felt a lot better. This year, I nailed it. I finally found a way to feel good about it. I gave everyone food.

It wasn’t necessarily easier than any other kind of shopping and I almost talked myself out of it several times. But once I was left the grocery store I finally felt like I’d done the right thing. Every gift had to be consumable — either food, drink, or ingredient — and for extra fun, none of it could be alcohol. Conflict be gone. Once I worked up the courage to commit, bought the pancake mix and the basmati rice, and wrapped them in brown paper tied up with string, my heart grew three sizes.

There is coffee and maple syrup and popcorn and hot sauce waiting under my tree and it feels GOOD. I finally feel good about the obligation. As I repeat every damn year, I’d rather not do the gift thing at all but it is important to people who love me, so I participate for them. Now I can finally feel good about my participation. Which I guess is a long way of saying the gift-giving is all about how I feel and how I want to feel. I’m owning that. As a bonus to my own validation though, my gifts are less likely to end up in a landfill, so if you get one from me you can share the feel-goodness of my choice too.

But just to avoid any unpleasantness I gave everyone a heads up. Hey y’all. Everyone gets food this year. No stuff; only food. Season’s eatings! I mean, after the rocks I had nowhere to go but up, so I got no pushback. One said, Cool. No tuna. Another said, please no avocados. Other than that all are on board. Even if they weren’t I’d still feel good about it but offline I heard from more than one of them what I already knew; that it’s a dandy idea. This is great to hear because I plan to do it every year now that I’ve pulled the trigger on Merry Snackmas. I don’t want to ever go back to Merry Stuffmas. Or Merry Crapmas. Or Merry Debtmas. Or spend another minute on all the supply chain madness.

The idea came to me while watching a Netflix drama of dirt-poor European children in the late 1800s completely thrilled to get apples in their stockings. Eyes shining, dazzled expressions, coos of excitement and glee. They held their apples up to the dim light of the oil lamp and rotated them, gazing upon their peels with delight. I’m not expecting the same level of joy and wonder from my gifts of herbal tea and smoothie bombs, but credit where it’s due, this is what sparked my idea. I also remembered novels from the same time period in which folks received new things at Christmas-time because it took all year to make them by hand and they were therefore not disposable. Imagine getting only one sweater a year or only getting apples once per year. I digress.

I’m sharing this because I want to you to steal/adopt/modify the idea. I want it to catch on. Start small if you have to, like switching up the rules of Dirty Santa or Secret Santa gifts to make them all food items. Or in a family, everyone over the age of ten gets food. Or for coworkers, treats and snacks. Full disclosure; I did not bake or cook anything. I’m not trying to make more work for you, friends. I’m trying to make more joy for you and yours. It was surely more joyous for me and did I mention I only went to two stores for e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g? I simply spent the same amount of money on food instead of well, you know, stuff.

I realize it’s a little late in the game to be posting this. Most of you have probably already shopped. But who says it’s only a good idea for winter holidays? And if you haven’t finished yet you can finish with food. Or plan to steal this for next year. Or just consider it and I’ll try to bring it up again around the first of November in 2022. Meet me back here?

Be well. Merry merry joy joy.

— Mercy

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