To buy, or not to buy

by Jay Jamison

To buy, or not to buy, that is the question. Whether it is nobler to help the economy and bring Christmas cheer to family and friends, or to plumb the moral depths of the true meaning of Christmas –keeping a few extra bob in the bank account– ah, that’s the dilemma. My problem this time of year is that I would like to bring Christmas cheer to my family and friends, but I have no inkling what to buy.

Let’s cut to the chase. I’m not a clothes horse. I have no understanding of fashion at all. I view the idea of fashion as a conspiracy among dubious people in Paris and New York who, once again, failed to consult me on the latest trend. So, gifts of clothing are not an option. Just think of those memorable gifts from great aunts who spent countless hours knitting caps and scarves for their unwitting victims. Or better yet, consider that scene in the movie, “A Christmas Story,” where Ralph is forced to model an ensemble of pink bunny pajamas –a gift from his aunt. Yeah, it’s like that. Gifting clothes is out. I do this out of compassion.

OK, what about electronics? Everybody likes gadgets. Where could I go wrong? When my father was having some health issues, I finally succumbed to my family’s pressure and bought a cell phone. Equipped with a cell phone, I was immediately available. Should something bad happen, I was ready to leap into action in case of an emergency. Dad’s been gone eleven years now, God rest his soul, and I’m still using an ancient flip phone. Its service has been reduced to mostly accommodating those ever-vigilant folks, who are very concerned about my car’s extended warranty. Also, along the electronic marvels line, I’ve suffered through numerous meetings where the speaker’s message was to be delivered via a computer video presentation. We’ve all experienced the anticipated result: The expected delay, as presenters try to get their fabulous presentations to work. When people who have been using this technology can’t seem to get it to work, is it any wonder that I’m reluctant to use it, let alone attempt to gift some of this stuff to others?

I also have no sense –nostalgic or otherwise– of popular culture. When sitting at the bar in one of Jacksonville’s more enlightened establishments, I am usually reduced to a stony silence when any category requiring knowledge of popular culture is introduced. So, pop music and videos are not on my buy list.

I remember during my callow youth when I could fall back on a gift-buying certainty. Every year as a teenager, I bought my father a bottle of Old Spice aftershave lotion for Christmas. One winter just before Christmas, he motioned to me. He wanted to show me something. He opened the door to his bedroom closet, and there on a shelf were about eight bottles of Old Spice! He just gave me a look, saying nothing. Message received.

I guess my real fear is receiving that wan smile on Christmas morning, that cringe-worthy moment when loved ones open my gifts and say, “Jay, you shouldn’t have!” … and really mean it.

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