December 22, 2009
Ideally by now the manic materialist melee of the Christmas shopping season is behind you. There may be a few last-minute convenience-store runs for retaliatory gifting, but hey, you can’t anticipate everything. It’s not realistic to expect gifts from your yoga teacher, your postal carrier, or the person who towels sweat off the equipment at your gym. What the fuck? This isn’t Japan. People should at least be on a bro hug basis before they start buying useless shit for one another. A good rule of gifting is that if a present can be procured at the dollar store, a nice card will probably suffice. Handmade will do, too. You might even get away with a Monk-e-mail. Popping for Uchi gift certificates or weekend stays at the Four Seasons is downright creepy unless you’re a real estate agent or a personal injury lawyer. Even a box of Godiva chocolates is a bit ostentatious for any relationship that doesn’t involve blood relatives, heavy petting, or perhaps some sort of disturbing combination of the two. Otherwise, disproportionate gifting just has one effect: awkwardness. Sadly, as much as you might try to duck and cover during the holiday season, somebody you would never expect will inevitably drop a gift bomb on you. That is why you should say a little prayer of thanks for all the unrepentant heathens who keep their 24-hour convenience stores open year round. You just never know if your reclusive next-door neighbor with foil on his windows is going to drop by with a fruit basket, a cheese ball, or a used pizza box full of pot brownies. Even though you know for an absolute certainty that his heartfelt offering of friendship will soon be clogging up your garbage disposal, you will still feel enough of a tinge of guilt to send you down to the corner store at 9 o’clock on Christmas Eve to buy him an ice scraper and a bottle of 10W-30 motor oil in retaliation. You could get him a sleeve of Donettes and a six-pack of Smirnoff Ice, but you won’t want him thinking you’re trying to get in his pants. Smarter, shrewder types will just leave the giver hanging … not even a thank you note. It’s a ballsy play, but the idea behind that strategy is solid: A giver is like a hungry kitten at your screen door. If you just ignore it, it will eventually go away. In the real world, not everyone has the cold chrome heart it takes to ignore a hungry, mewing kitten – not even a metaphorical one. Money can’t buy everything, but occasionally it can buy some last-minute peace of mind, and sometimes that peace of mind just happens to come through a metal sliding drawer beneath a bulletproof glass window at 3am on Christmas morning – or as the Sikh on the other side of the glass likes to call it, “December 25.” Regardless of what you call it, at least on Christmas Day the pressure is off. You might have done good or completely screwed the pooch with the gifting, but on C-Day there’s no use worrying about it. In the immortal words of Clayton Williams, you might as well relax and enjoy it. “It” ideally would be Dale Watson’s annual Christmas Show & Dance at the Continental Club. If you’re on the fence about country music, Dale will definitely make you a believer. Plus there’s no better way to meet the opposite gender in Austin than knowing how to country dance, so stop being stuck up and give it a whirl.