Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

When You've Given Up on Holiday Giving and Taking

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

When You've Given Up on Holiday Giving and Taking

Article excerpt

Yep, that was me loafing in front of the TV all weekend, gleefully sitting out Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

This is not to infer that I don't support big stores, small stores and/or the endless reaches of cyberspace.

I do.

But buying gifts for everyone I know?

It sounds good on paper, but I really can't stand it.

I can't stand picking out gifts, standing on line to pay for them, wrapping them, hiding them in the attic or lugging them from my house to your house.

So, I'm cheap?

I don't think so. In the last 15 years or so, I've given all the kids in my family plenty of long skinny envelopes stuffed with dough.

And, every year, I give Dad an IOU for a shopping excursion at his earliest, post-holiday convenience.

"I'll take you to whatever store you want to go to," I tell him, "and you can get whatever you want."

As for buying gifts...sorry, but I really can't stand it.

I blame my parents for this. Every year, I'd buy them wonderful gifts and every year they'd return them.

ALL of them.

When I was a little kid, this was at least partially understandable. I can still recall the time that the lady at our local Rexall drugstore talked me into spending $3 on a bottle of murky green bubble bath with a picture of an evergreen on the front.

"Your mother will love it," Madame Rexall insisted. "It's pine. She'll smell just like a pine tree."

I was probably 8 or 9 at the time and didn't exactly have much in the way of disposable income. I also wasn't up to date on which trees women wanted to smell like.

As it turned out, my mother had no desire to smell like a pine, a maple or a slippery elm.

And even though she never used the stuff, she made a huge fuss over it, anyway.

"I love it," she said. "Thanks so much."

"Open it and smell it!" I urged.

"No, that's OK," she said. "I can smell it through the bottle."

As I got older, there was less pretense. I'd spend hours in stores, picking out the perfect items.

Then: "Billy, you don't mind if I bring this back, do you?

"," I'd reply. "Of course, not. If that's what you want to do."

We also began the sorry practice of leaving price tags on the gifts (rather than snipping them off) and taping receipts to the bottoms of the boxes. …

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