Every Christmas, I am tortured by the same philosophical question: What happened to presents??? They are here, but they are not. Presents are moving into the same direction like “And they lived happily forever after”: We like the whole idea, we like to try and keep it alive, but deep inside we know that they are just shadows from some past times. Yes, Christmas is coming and we’re all into that presents dilemma again. What to give? Everybody has everything! Is it still possible to give a present that will kick someone out of his/her shoes? I’m sceptical. My parents keep telling me about the Christmases of their childhood, when they were excited about finding oranges and peanuts in a sock. I read Jane Austin’s novels in which getting a ribbon for your hat was, even for the ladies of more wealth, an ecstatic experience. And I remember my excitement of receiving a Barbie doll or a Hello Kitty pencil. All those things were rare, and that made them magical. What is still rare (and magical) today?
Yes, we all know that we are a doomed society based on materialism and consumption: Buying and throwing away keeps the world going around. But there is another depressing aspect to the extinction of presents: we are generally slowly losing the capability to ad that something extra to each-other’s lives. Can someone still give me something that a) I would still get very excited about and b) I cannot give to myself? We don’t really need each other any more, do we? And by losing that practical necessity, we are also slowly loosing the capability to give magic. A woman used to need a man to provide for the survival of the family. A man used to need a woman to spread his genes and take care of him and the kids. Parents needed their kids to watch over them when they are old. Kids needed their parents to help with their own kids. We needed family to give us security. We needed friends to support us both through good and bad times. Today, we can cope without all of them. There is a substitute for everyone. And this kills the magic.
“We’ll just have symbolic presents” is what my family tells each other every Christmas, trying to make the whole dilemma easier. But this is stupid, because finding a good symbolic present is just as hard, if not harder, than buying a present-present – such as a new car or a diamond necklace. And at the end, the whole symbolism turns out to be exactly what Christmas is about. It is about being together and celebrating the true magic of life: being surrounded with people who love you, enjoying a great meal, good wine and a warm and comfortable home. Sharing love. That’s what we still need each other for! And you can’t buy that as a present, can you?
Yes, presents might be gone, but let's not allow Grinch to steal Christmas!