It’s officially the time of year in which I get asked the dreaded question: What do you want for Christmas?
My standard reply – particularly when asked this by my mother – of “nothing,” is generally deemed as unacceptable.
Of course, my standard reply isn’t entirely true. I am not, after all, some enlightened Buddhist who has transcended material attachments and the prison of desire. I like having stuff, and I generally would like to have even more stuff or at least better versions of stuff that I already have.
The problem is, no one who is likely to give me stuff is willing or able to drop the kind of cash that would be required to give me the stuff that I really want, and even if they were, I won’t be willing to accept the stuff I want as a gift, because, seriously, regardless of your financial ability, there is no reason for anyone to spend that kind of money on me.
…okay, maybe if someone in my family or one of my close friends suddenly struck it rich and could easily afford to give such extravagant gifts, I might take a somewhat less principled stance, but even so, the point is, the stuff I want costs too damn much and it would be completely unreasonable for me to expect anyone I know to get said stuff for me.
Hell, even if all the people I know who are likely to give me a gift pooled their resources it would still be way too much money for them to invest individually.
Here’s a f’r instance:
What you’re looking at is a Wacom Cintiq 24 HD Touch. This is a device that runs north of $3,000.
What do I want for Christmas? I want that.
I only know one person in the world who can afford to buy that for me and with whom I’m sufficiently close that I’d be willing to accept such an extravagant gift: myself.
And even I’m not willing to buy that for me, so I certainly couldn’t ask anyone else to do so.
Of course, there are smaller, more affordable things that I want – or need – but the problem there is that if I want something, and it’s affordable, I’ll just buy it myself. That is, after all, why I’ve allowed myself to become a corporate drone and establishment stooge: so that I make enough money to buy myself the things that I want (within reason) and need. I mean, obviously I don’t work because sitting in a cubicle all day is my passion in life. It’s a thing that I do so that I can keep a roof over my head, food in my belly, and keep myself well-stocked with comics and electronic gadgets.
You may object that Christmas and gift-giving/gift-receiving are about more than just getting the stuff you want, and I would agree with you. It’s a big part of why I appreciate the gifts I do get, even though they’re generally things that I could easily buy for myself. I understand that the gift itself isn’t the point.
But by that same token, it’s part of why I don’t like being asked the question, because if you like me well enough that you feel compelled to get me something, you should also know me well enough to be able to identify an appropriate (and affordable) gift.
So maybe what I really want for Christmas is for the people I care about – and who care about me – to know me well enough to not have to ask that question.
That sounds kind of harsh, and I don’t mean it to, but it is what it is.
The other reason I find the question irksome is that if I give an answer and that ends up being the gift the element of surprise is gone, and while I’m not nearly so invested in Christmas as I was when I was a kid, there is still that part of me that enjoys the thrill of anticipation and the joy of uncertainty. Tearing open the wrapping paper is a lot more exciting when you have no idea – or at least are not completely certain – what’s inside.
However, I recognize that I’m not exactly the easiest person to know – or to understand – and when you factor in my tendency to just buy the things I want for myself, figuring out what to get for me is tricky without me providing some input.
So it’s a matter of trying to think of something that I want that I don’t yet know that I want, which, yeah, not easy.
But it’s not really any easier for me, frankly. I have a difficult time thinking of things that I want that I don’t already have that are also reasonably affordable.
Then there are the non-material things that no one can provide, or at least, that no one can buy, the things that I want even more than that too-damned-expensive-for-anyone-to-buy Cintiq, which can’t be given, and which I don’t seem to be able to acquire for myself. But we won’t delve into any of that…
Ultimately, while it’s not the most useful answer to the question, or an entirely honest one, “nothing” has been my go-to reply not because I don’t want anything, but because when I try to come up with an answer that hits all of the appropriate points, nothing is what I can come up with.
With all that said, no matter who you are, how close we are, or whether or not you can actually afford it, if you really want to buy me a Cintiq 24 HD Touch, in the spirit of the season, I will willingly set aside my principled objections to anyone spending that much money on me and grudgingly accept it…