The perfect Christmas gift

A man passes a shop window with a picture of a Christmas present on the street.
A man passes a shop window with a picture of a Christmas present on the street.Getty Images

Christmas, as we all know, is uplifting. Uplifting in the sense that nothing teaches more than the gifts given or exchanged at family dinners. Of course, the most profound teaching, contrary to what is usually thought, is not in the act of giving, but in the act of receiving. And it is that removing the bow and unwrapping a Christmas gift is essential for our sentimental education.

Above all, if one is part of a family like the family in which I grew up, that is, a family in which the effort prior to that moment when dinner time stops, is taken away. the bow and unwrapping the Christmas gift is equal, equivalent to absolute zero. I imagine that many have gone through the same thing, but, just in case, I explain myself better: although nobody dedicates the minimum interest or the necessary time to choose what they might like or serve their blood or political relative – really move him or make him happy they are terms eradicated from the Christmas equation in principle — everyone expects the surprise of the gift.

What do I say surprise, everyone, absolutely everyone who gives, expects in exchange for their gift the astonishment, astonishment, stupefaction, the paroxysm of the one who ends up, in front of the rest of their relatives – relatives who, luckily, will have to go through the same traumatic trance, moments before or after—, of tearing the bow and tearing the colored paper that was hiding, for example, a pocket calculator — I know it seems an exaggeration, but it is not.

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And like all those who give, they are, at the same time, all those who receive – if something cannot be hidden from Christmas, it is that it democratizes both gifts and thanks, which is, in itself, another of its characteristics. most generous uplifting ones — we all, absolutely all, got caught up in the center of his greatest teaching: a calculator! Damn… just what I needed! Mostly because the one you gave me last year, auntie, broke down. And the one you gave me the previous year, which I think was the same as this one, I lost.

Up close, there is nothing more sincere than hypocrisy, wrote GK Chesterton in his memoirs, presumably because his Christmases included dozens of family members. And that is the greatest of the teachings of these dates: they show us how to be sincere, hypocritically, which amounts to the same thing, of course, that sincere hypocrites: I can’t believe it … really … I can’t believe it ! An engargolado with your first stories, cousin … but what a privilege! Besides, I had nothing better to read on this vacation! Seriously … I swear! You see that there are hardly any good books, the kind that one wants to read before a relative’s manuscript.

Sincere hypocrisy or hypocritical sincerity, which in the end is nothing but the greatest of the pillars of our social relations – according to sociologists as important as Erving Goffman, who assure that, to sustain society, its members play dramatic roles , true, but at the same time false, something like the role of an actor, a role written and performed majestically, by someone who is not the one he represents, even the one whom he represents for a moment: the moment in which he Tears off the bow and tears the colored paper: a tie, man! How did you know I didn’t have any… I’ve never had one! -.

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Of course, as is clear, the exchange of gifts, the very heart of Christmas, instructs us in another of the teachings that, in the end, will be essential for life: sarcasm, the quality, then, that allows us to festive and grateful paroxysm that our family members expect, at the same time that it opens a gap – it does not matter that it is tiny – to their own stupefaction, that is, to the intimate and secret revenge: I knew it, brother-in-law … a small bottle of mezcal , as always! And of a mezcal so good that it is 300 milliliters …! Like a Pepsi!

Chesterton already said it, too, in his autobiography – his Christmases, I insist, were crammed with relatives -: in everything that is really important, the inside is much bigger than the outside. Hence, intimate revenge consoles us with the horror that our public reaction implies. The assertion of the old man from London, however, points to another of the most important Christmas teachings: that evil is always above good, when it comes to gifts.

Or would anyone dare to claim that they don’t spend much more time and energy choosing the gift to give in a joke exchange than to give in a regular exchange? Honestly, if someone dares to say it, I can only doubt him or her. And, apparently, nothing arouses the soul of the generous person more than being able to hurt —with the permission of humor— the self-esteem of the gifted person.

Which, now that I write it and, therefore, think about it, makes me think, understand, write something totally unexpected: my family has been doing a joke exchange for almost forty years, at least, without having warned me: my own book, bound like an old book, but what a cool detail!

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Although no, it will be that no. My family has not been giving each other joke gifts for forty or thirty or twenty or ten or a year, but gifts that are totally and absolutely serious, honest, from the heart. As Chesterton also wrote: “None of his ideas had sufficient verisimilitude to be fiction.” Who would give, if not, three meters of wrapping paper, wrapped in that paper. Or the mines of a pencil, without the pencil. My family actually always finds the perfect gift. That is why I am grateful, here, for what is going to touch me.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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