Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

The Joy of Giving - and Receiving - Has Gone Sour

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

The Joy of Giving - and Receiving - Has Gone Sour

Article excerpt

As you've probably heard, we're smack in the middle of the season of giving -- which is fine with me, except for the giving part.

I'm done with giving. Sick of giving. Tired of giving.

Just talking about giving gives me a headache.

At the moment, though, it's all people want to talk about.

"What are you giving your mother this year?" they ask.

The conversation, generally, is all downhill from there.

"Nothing," I reply,

"Your father?"


"Your ... ?"


Any other questions?

This is not to say that I want to discourage YOU from giving. Just don't give anything to me. Because in addition to being sick of giving, I'm sick of receiving.

"It is better not to give -- or receive," that's my motto.

Right about now, you're probably thinking of my favorite holiday character, Ebenezer Scrooge, with whom I have much in common.

Ebenezer, created by the brilliant Charles Dickens, was born in 1843. I was born in 1955. He had long, thin nose. I have a short, flat nose. He refused to turn up the heat. I turn the heat up so high that I often have to open the window to let some cold air in.

Well, OK, so we don't have any of THOSE things in common.

But Ebenezer, whom we meet as a cold-hearted, miserly misanthrope at the beginning of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," is eventually shown to us, in flashback, as a rather sensitive young lad, hurt -- DEEPLY -- by his cruel, insensitive family.

See? Same as me.

Mind you, I didn't always have a cruel, insensitive family.

Or did I?

Flashing back to my childhood, I see a very young me, looking through showcases at the corner drugstore to buy a Christmas gift for my mother, eventually settling on the $1.99 pine-scented bubble bath that the salesman assures me will make my mother smell as pretty and feminine as Oregon.

Flash forward a couple of days to Christmas morning: "Oh, what a lovely gift!" my mother says, as she unwraps the box containing the bottle filled with murky, dark green liquid. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

Days go by. And weeks. And months. And my mother never smells as pretty and feminine as Oregon, even though the murky dark bottle of $1.99 pine-scented bubble bath is still in the bathroom, under the sink, next to the murky light bottle of Drano. …

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