It's Christmastime and my friends have gone shopping crazy. You can find them at the mall and the bookshop, and browsing the online shopping markets. As is the case every year, most of them have suddenly came into large pools of cash. We vowed as a group that there would be no gift exchange outside of white elephant. So simple: we’d buy one gift each, and everyone would get a gift valued $25 or less. Naturally, the vow was violated by numerous people. These people also let it slip that they were buying gifts for specific unnamed people, which then made everyone else wonder if they should needed to buy gifts. No one wanted to recieve a gift from someone they had not purchased a gift for. Better safe than sorry.

Sure, I'd like to take part in the runaway gift giving that has taken over my friends. Rampant consumerism can be a lot of fun, especially when you see the smiles on the faces of those on the recieving end or you yourself are standing in a pile of wrapped boxes. But I was happy with just doing white elephant and this new turn events makes me rather sad because I can't afford to vomit my money into Roosevelt Field Mall just to see them smile. What I can afford is gifts for my family, White elephant and one or two friends. Maybe if I knew who was buying me a gift, I could buy one in return. I don't have enough money to be better safe than sorry.

I feel sort of guilty about it. My upbringing has shown me that material things ARE important to a lot of people who equate it them with love and friendship. Funny, I know. Then there is the fact that within the horde of people I know, gift-giving turns into a fishing contest, a race to see who can give the most or even get the most. That's just the way things are, and that mode of thinking is not unique to these people. I laugh to think that the reality is that these people would all be much better off if they just took two hundred bucks and bought themselves everything they might want. Then we could all come together and show off our treasures.

If I could, I'd give them the world, but I can't so I'll give them my words. I will take them on their own personal adventure, making them the star of a world made just for them where they have all the money and they get all the girls. I'll enjoy doing it.

"Cop out gift," some say. In fact, one year my mother said just that. Most of my friends from college are not readers, and on those occasions when I've shared writing, their only comments have ranged from "nice" to "cute." They will very likely feel ripped off because they spent twenty dollars on something I'll never use like a makeup set or a Mandees gift certificate and all I could give them in return was some short story that didn't cost me a thing. Except time. And my thoughts, but they will not think of that. Anyhow, I hope they won't look too far down at my gift. Some will, of course, I just hope they aren't too disappointed. Me is the only thing I really have to give.

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