Sunday, November 27, 2011

Smartphones and Love Aren't the Same Thing. Sorry, they just aren't.

How does that saying go?  "It's that time of year"..?

  I feel that I can mention Christmas because it is AFTER Thanksgiving now.  I have the personal rule that I don't even think about the fat guy in the red suit until after the turkey leftovers have been consumed.  One nervous breakdown- I mean holiday- at a time.

  You may be getting the impression, gentle reader, that I am not exactly stoked about the biggest retail holiday of the year.  Well, yes and no.

Yeah, I'll get there at 12 am if they're handing out gold bars and will be cleaning my house for a month.  This chick just gives me the willies.  And you never really recover from a bad case of the willies.

Don't worry.  I'm not going to get on yet another soapbox and start spouting anti-consumerism Christmas rhetoric that we've all heard for the last 50 years.  None of you need to hear more of that.  What I'm going to do is just spell out some of my own personal observations without getting bogged down in the obvious.  I'm actually a big fan of what Linus said in "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!", but I will site some specific examples and reasons for how I see the holiday.

"You know Linus, maybe showing this cartoon for 50 years hasn't done any good.  I'm going to throw a park bench through the front of Best Buy and finally get that game system. You'd better not get in my way, you thumb-sucking egghead."

First of all, let's be perfectly clear about something.  This whole "Black Friday" and gift-buying obsession is particular to THIS country ONLY.  I have friends and family members in a dozen countries, and none of them even come close to the level of mania we have for buying stuff for Christmas.  For most countries, it is either simply a religious holiday, or just a time to get together with family and maybe exchange a few small gifts- that's it.  I get the impression they look at our Black Friday nonsense with the same shock and disgust as we look at soccer riots in Europe.  Hey, soccer (or "football") is a fun game, but no reason to cause a riot and kill people!  The same goes for getting 75 bucks off a lousy TV. 

Yeah!  Kinda like starting fires on Devil's Night in Detroit!  Woohoo!

Okay, tell me you DON'T know someone with this attitude about their phone.

So what makes our country different from other countries that celebrate Christmas?  There is the obvious factor of wealth, and the large middle class.  Many other countries don't even have a "middle class".  But a less obvious factor (and perhaps simply a result of other factors) is the set of priorities we have here. Fifty, sixty years ago, Christmas was a whole different holiday.  The gifts were mainly for children- as it should be!  I mean, come on.  A holiday that is largely built around an overweight elf that flies through the sky on a sleigh pulled by wild animals is CLEARLY meant for children and not adults!!  At what point did every adult feel entitled to toys also?  When did the gifts overshadow everything else?  When did we turn into spoiled little kids, and start teaching our children that adults are just as childish as they are? 

Speaking of gifts- I have compliled a list and descriptions of the 5 types of gifts given at Christmas.  Tell me if you agree or not.

The Five Types of Xmas Gifts-

1) Obligatory gifts. Probably the most common, they are given out of a sense of obligation. Usually random sale items.

2) Extravagant/shiny gifts. Generally given to try to impress someone or possibly to provide the illusion that the giver actually cares about the receiver.

3) Practical gifts. These are sometimes given with some amount of thought, but usually are just given because there is only a cursory knowledge of the receiver.

4) Mandatory gifts. Gifts given because the receiver actually told the giver what he or she wants.

5) The heartfelt gift. These are selected/created with heart, thought, or even personal sacrifice for the one recieving it. Probably the most rare of the 5 types of gifts, and most often given by small children to those they truly love.

If you really think about it, I think you will be able to see which gifts fall into which category this year.  Look, I'm not trying to badmouth Christmas.  I actually have nothing against it!  I guess my issue is with this selfish nonsense that has built up around it.  Christmas has just been used as an excuse to spend too much, eat too much, drink too much and not expect any consequences.  After a while, this makes the holiday mean less and less....

Apparently Batman and I BOTH have issues.  Therefore I am turning the basement into the Batcave, and I will now being using a Bat pencil and Bat sketchbook, along with drinking my Bat Redbull.

This is the PERFECT gift!!  Don't steal my idea, dammit!

As far as gift-giving-- well, I'm all for it! There is something very special about a gift you receive that you know came from the heart.  And spending a lot of time and effort on choosing/making a gift for someone else is very satisfying- especially when you know it will be appreciated.  It would be an awful feeling to give someone a heartfelt gift-- and then have it treated the same way as you would a paperweight.  Maybe people are afraid of that happening.  Maybe that's a  problem with the holiday now; everyone is afraid to deal with the possibilty of hurt and disappointment, so we cover it up with all this TV-inspired superficial nonsense.  Do we really need to give more money to Sanyo or Apple just so we can have shiny, borderline useless devices like all of our friends do?   Damn, people. We can't fill the hole in our souls with consumer electronics!!

I feel your pain, kid.  I feel your pain.

 I don't know.  I'm just an artist and a blogger.  No one says you have to listen to me, and I don't claim to have all the answers.  All I'm saying is- please put some thought and heart into your gifts this year.  Don't just check things off of a list, and don't just spend 30 seconds deciding what a person will receive.  Think twice before buying ANOTHER dvd or video game or phone, okay?  I'm not saying to steal the person's diary to explore their soul, or to hand-craft a grandfather clock.  Just...make a little effort.  Put a little of yourself into it.  Please.

Now this dude seems excited about his present.  Good for you, creepy cape-wearin' dude.

Well, I could go on and on, but I'd better put away the keyboard and get ready for my dayjob tomorrow.  I'm sure you've had enough of my ravings for one evening.  But, I would like to thank you all for reading this.  I haven't been blogging lately, and this season does inspire me to blog more.  Just gotta make time for it.  Oh, I'm going to have more stuff on Etsy this week, including one very cool item-- PILLOWS!  This one is embroidered and fancy-schmancy and...well, you'll just have to keep tuning into this Bat-channel and Facebook to find out.

Alright, I'm done here.  I'm turning off the lights now- don't knock on my door and ask for candy.