I’m a perfectionist. It took me a long time to come to terms with and admit that I am a perfectionist, but I am now at peace with it. I also have anxiety and as you can well imagine this makes for a “fun” combination. With the holiday season upon us I imagine that you, like me, have begun crossing people off your Christmas list this year. Finding gifts here and there as you go about your daily life. A few of my friends I knew immediately what I would get them this year, others, not so much.
As soon as I got all the obvious gifts for people out of my mind bought, I began to ruminate for days on a question that has vexed me so these past few weeks. “What in the world am I going to get NAME REDACTED?” I struggle, as though I know my friend’s tastes and interests well, I want to find that one perfect little thing that shows I care and put thought into what I got them. I didn’t want to do what I’ve done in the past and get a gift card. Though there is nothing wrong with a gift card, and I like them myself, it does have an air of “Oh, I didn’t know we were doing gifts this year and I grabbed this at the Wall Drug just before I came over.”
As I get older, I find myself more attracted towards practical gifts over whimsical ones. Sometimes you can get lucky and find something that mixes the two together. But you don’t want to be too practical that it’s downright impersonal while being too personal. “Hey, Thom. I saw on the Facebooks the other night that you’re having trouble going number two. I bought you this Sam’s Club sized tub of Metamucil. Think of me each time you feel comfort.” That would indeed show I care, but it would also make my friends think that maybe I’m two steps away from snapping a latex glove and saying “Alright, start coughing.”
Even if you know what your friend’s passions and interests are, that can sometimes be a downside. You know that your friends who love Shakespeare own or have been given a whole variety of Shakespearian garb and whatnots. Do they really want another Bard themed item for the collection, or will they find it delightful? To top it all off, what if that perfect gift for that one friend is in a price range way disproportionate to what you bought everyone else. You must, and this year I have, placed a price cap on what I’m getting people. I don’t want to get something small for one person and then get someone else something a bit more indulgent. The last thing I need is to give a gift that says “I like them more than you” even if you don’t mean that.
Picture it like it’s a triangle. On one corner we have cost, on the other thoughtfulness, and on the third corner practicality. Behold, this is the magical Christmas triangle that creates an existential crisis inside me. Spending hours up late at night not sleeping, pouring over the inventory of every single store I can think of, trying to find that perfect gift while also worrying it will say “I don’t care! This literally fell off a dump truck, that’s you. Dumpy Holidays!”
If you’ve never experienced the sensation of an existential crisis fueled by your own insecurity and perfection, imagine a game of pong taking place inside your brain. On the one side is your logical side. The part of you that knows that any gift you get your friends will be appreciated and they won’t judge the hell out of you due to the quality of the item. The other side is where the illogical anxiety lives. It’s determined to win. It came prepared, and also wants you to know that you are the one who is actually garbage and will be given a box of trash this Christmas. Dumpy Holidays!
Now if I was someone who had, let’s say, invested money in tech companies back in the day at the right time and had all the money in the world, none of this would be a problem. I would then be Oprah. I would give out the most absurdly over the top gifts to everyone. I’d rent out a theater, invite all my friends over, and it would become “Andy’s Favorite Things” with a dash of “Ellen’s 12 Days of Christmas” thing. It would be cars, fancy chocolate, clothing with shea butter embedded, and enough records and board games to choke a whale.
As I think about it, I could still do this, but on a much, much, MUCH lower scale. I would walk out and stand center in a lone spotlight, as my friends wonder what I asked them there for, I would say “I want to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas. Look under your seats. You get a $5 hot and ready pizza, and YOU get a $5 hot and ready pizza! You’re all getting $5 PIIIZZZZZAAAAAAASSSS!!!!!!” This is a thought to keep in mind, I know people with theaters I could use. If you get invited to a strange address from me this season you should show up. You might just find yourself neck deep in pizza. See you next week.