One Christmas, I gave my friends wooly socks and toothbrush kits from my favourite airline. They told me off for giving them ‘freebie’ presents and said my new nickname should be ‘cheapie’. That hurt.
It was my first Christmas in Australia. I was thirteen. British Airways made lovely quality kits back then and those in particular I was reluctant to part with because they were souvenirs from special times in my life, spent with my family. I wasn’t upset with my friends then, though in hindsight, I should have been. I wouldn’t care for that kind of friendship these days.
When I go gift shopping each year, I’m reminded of that time. As I choose presents for loved ones, a little bit of me is preemptively sad at the very real possibility of rejection and ridicule. In defense, I get cynical about the holidays, Western society, capitalism; caught in the conflict between the Christmas I still believe in and the Christmas I worry I’m buying into just to maintain social expectation.
With each year comes another opportunity to overwrite the past. I am happy tonight because my shopping is almost done, and I have worried less this year than before. Christmas gets closer to being my Christmas, as I spare only a small thought for my thirteen year old self.