The more I think about it, the more I feel the need to explain yesterdays rant with regards to my Christmas presentless status. It could have been misconstrued. Yes, I worry about things like that. I worry about them when I wake up, bolt upright, at 3am thinking "OMG, my friend who gave me the thoughtful gift may think I am either annoyed at the thoughtful gift or I am just a douchbag who is ignoring her kindness in order to bitch about my family." This is, most definitely, not the case.
I came home from my office with an armload of small and very kind gifts which I did NOT open but put under my tree. Because I had a pretty good idea that they would be the only gifts with my name on them. And I was right.
You see, the older I get the more I realize that that hackneyed "it's the thought that counts" is so very true. It's not that the gifts would have been inexpensive. It's that no one cared enough to even try. I got someone a book. I thought he would like it. It wasn't a budget buster. It wasn't as nice as I would liked to have given him. But I did want him to have a gift, something from me, a present, wrapped, beribboned and tagged, under the tree.
If that same person had looked at the sparkly earrings that will eventually turn one's earlobes green (and possibly stretch them, thus requiring a $500 Spackle job a few years down the line) and thought "those would look pretty on her" well, then Tiffany's couldn't have produced a finer gift.
This isn't just true of me, although I find my perspective to be the one I understand best. I don't think we consider the people in our lives, the people close to us like we used to. Personally, I blame the internet.
One Christmas, many years ago, when we were young and had toddlers and were living from paycheck to paycheck, (yeah, like THAT'S changed) my husband, in spite of the "we can't afford gifts for each other" handed me a gift anyway. It was a book, from a used bookstore, it cost less than $5 dollars. It was a copy of "The Skin of Our Teeth", which is probably my favorite play of all time. I never forgot that Christmas, the love and affection in that gift.
I'll never forget this one either. I don't think it was deliberate. But I think that, with the hundreds of friends who exist on line, we don't look up from our laptops and PC monitors enough. We get up in the morning, stagger to the desk or table, and fire up our lives. What happened overnight? Did someone on a message board make an idiot of themselves and do I need to set them straight? Did someone say something about me? Do I have mail? Because it needs to be opened and responded to or deleted, immediately. We come home from work and immediately go to our laptops, despite the face that we shut down a computer at our office less than half an hour earlier. Because someone, somewhere may have said something that we need to know, and comment upon.
We would rather sacrifice heat or food or the car than lose our power and our DSL. We don't look out a window to see what kind of day it is, we type in weather.com. We send .jpgs of our Christmas tree to friends and links to copies of our Shag print. What we don't do is invite people in to enjoy our tree and our eggnog and show off our Shag print. Why should we? They can see our pictures and we can throw eggnog at them via Facebook.
We're losing our "people skills". We've almost forgotten what the heady feeling of a lungful of fresh ocean air feels like. We don't bother to heal broken relationships, why should we? There are MILLIONS of new people on line. Who needs one father? I can find three hundred more in about two minutes. And I don't have to be concerned if I've hurt his feelings because if he doesn't kiss my butt I can just "unfriend" him.
I have made several wonderful friends via the internet, I admit. I either have, or will meet them in person and I cherish them. I have also learned that there are people out there who confuse the internet with reality, and have discarded the flesh and blood sitting in front of them in favor of airbrushed .jpgs and tweeted updates from people we've never met.
Like primitive cultures faced with a camera, I think the monitor is stealing our souls.