I recently attended a memorial service for an old neighbour in the area where I grew up. At the luncheon afterwards, one of her daughters, a good friend, said to me, “I saw the Barbie movie recently, and it reminded me of you!”
Well, of course, I blushed at the thought that Barbie brought me to her mind. Was it the blonde hair? My bubbly personality? Something I was wearing?
But then she said, “When we were kids, I loved coming over to your house because you always had YOUR OWN Barbie!”
I had to think about that for a minute. And then I realized that what she meant was that, because I was an only child, I never had to share anything with anybody else in my house. I had my own Barbie. My own everything.
She came from a family of four kids, three of them girls. And when I started to think about it, everyone in my neighbourhood back then had a sibling, or several. I was the exception. They all decided that I was just a spoiled brat.
Most importantly to them, I always got ALL of the Christmas presents. As a kid, Christmas is all about the presents.
Even when my parents were struggling financially, I still got lots of presents. One Christmas, my Dad only got a bag of peanuts and my mother a cheap bottle of perfume. The rest of the gifts were for me.
Zip ahead sixty years or so, and I seriously couldn’t care if I ever got a Christmas present again. I mean it.
For years, my own little family has been making long Christmas lists of things we want, and every Christmas, our tree is barely visible behind a sea of gifts. Not only that, but I’ve almost always been the one with the biggest pile. Maybe I’m easy to buy for. Or I’m cute, like Barbie.
It’s just that I don’t really need anything anymore.
In fact, both my husband and I would be better off getting rid of things rather than accumulating more of them. We’ve got a huge house full of stuff. Stuff we don’t need, stuff we’ll never use, or have otherwise completely forgotten about.
I remember back a number of years when all of the complaints were that Christmas was becoming too commercialized. I guess my generation was the beginning of all of that.
Now it is SO crazy that the big box stores start bringing out all of the Christmas stuff in the summertime. It’s commercial to the point of being absurd.
Are people really thinking about Christmas decorations in July? I don’t think so. It’s only when Costco starts with the Yuletide paraphernalia that Christmas comes to mind. And we all say under our breath, “Christmas stuff ALREADY?”
I understand that some businesses, especially smaller, local ones, rely on Christmas to make most of their annual income. But Walmart doesn’t. I mean, come on!
I don’t want to get preachy about it. Who needs that? Buy all the stuff you want. And sure, there are plenty of homemade options or clever ideas for unique Christmas gifts. I’m all for that.
But me, I’m only really interested in get-togethers and little traditions like making gingerbread, watching White Christmas, and finding a tree to decorate. And every year I make at least one trip downtown before Christmas just to take in the atmosphere and walk through all the stores.
One of my friends says that all she asks of her daughters is to have one whole day with each of them alone. All to herself. I like that.
And, of course, I’ll buy my family whatever Christmas stuff they want. But this year, my list will only be three items long. One for each of them to buy me. Because I know they’ll want to buy me SOMETHING.
But just so you know — I already have my own Barbie.
Irene Jackson is a guitar teacher, musician and general writer “wanna-be” living in the beautiful city of Victoria, B.C. Her website is irenejackson.com.