Christmas used to be my very favorite time of year. I loved everything about it, but most of all, I loved the spirit that seemed to pervade…well, everything. Maybe I was a victim of my own naivete, or maybe I’ve just grown up since then, but I’m no longer so enamored of this time of year.

For those of you who read my post Welcome, December, you know I haven’t totally shed the joy of the season. My heart still skips when the calendar turns and occasionally I find myself unintentionally humming carols. And I really love to sit, late at night,  in a room illuminated only by the lights of my Christmas tree and a crackling fire, just soaking up the atmosphere.

If only those treasured moments could stave off the onslaught of overprogramming, commercialism, and obligation. Alas, six days before Christmas I find myself scurrying about, impervious to price tags or sentiment, trying to make sure I have everyone covered. When did Christmas become quid pro quo?

Of all the seasonal foibles I could name, one sucks the joy out of the season for me more than any other: the phrase “buy for.” You’ve heard it often. She’s so hard to buy for. I only have three left to buy for. Whom do you have to buy for? We have to buy for 14 this year. What are you going to buy for me, Mom?

Gifts are supposed to be given from the heart, whether bought, shared, or handmade. Nothing in phrase buy for indicates a desire to give or the joy of delighting someone. It reeks instead of obligation and to me, that’s not giving. There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a gift–after all, that’s the traditional method of acquiring something to give–but when the focus is put on the buying and not the giving, you might as well just call it a holiday transaction.

If you don’t understand what I mean, consider this shift in phraseology:

She’s so hard to buy for.  =>  I don’t know what to give her.

Those two statements convey completely different sentiments. Only one of them embodies the spirit of giving. Call me crazy, but I don’t want to be bought for.

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