Yesterday, I went Christmas shopping for Kevin for his kids.

He had documented the basic horror of this experience here so I need not duplicate the effort, except to note that A) our trip was ultimately successful, and B) since we were going to a formal party immediately after the Christmas shopping, we did the entire four-hour junket wearing evening wear (which in my case involves cut velvet and The Boots, and in his case involves the kilt.) However, since it’s the Christmas season, nobody in retail notices or cares what you are wearing, as long as you are not shrieking like a chimp and flinging feces at them. The occasional fellow shopper would notice–"HEY! Is that a Utilikilt!?"–but that’s about as far as it went. (You know it’s been a long day for employees when you can walk into a GameStop with cleavage cut down to your navel, and the staff looks at you bleary-eyed and never glances below the collarbone.) 

I will note that it’s a little strange to be ogling saltwater fish in formalwear. (The mandarin goby was better dressed than I was, and would always be better dressed than I was, but that’s okay.)

Kevin’s article, however, highlights a much different question, a clash of cultures that was as profound as it was unexpected. (Well, and also the problem of having small children who want cheat-devices for their Pokemon games for Christmas, which you, as a gamer parent, are morally opposed to, because goddamnit, in OUR day we had to buy the damn hint books with our own money and do the bloody walkthrough of Wizardry or whatever ourselves, none of this plug-and-instant gratification crap what is the younger generation coming to etc, etc. But that’s a minor note.)

WE always opened presents on Christmas Eve. The tradition was that you bake cookies for half the day, you make earnest plans that really, this year you’ll go to Midnight Mass, you go out to dinner (always Chinese food) you come home, too bloated to even think about going anywhere, let alone anywhere with a lot of athletic kneeling, the stockings have magically appeared (Mom always seemed to have to run back in to get her purse before dinner) and you open all the presents. Then you sleep in on Christmas Day. This is normal and logical and sane and everybody gets lots of sleep and no one is awakened by small children screaming about Santa at four AM.

Kevin, of course, belongs to the tradition that you open Christmas Day. This strikes me as inefficient. More, it strikes me that we’re getting no damn sleep the morningof the 25th. He, on the other hand, thinks that opening Christmas Eve is unnatural. In his family, the presents don’t even APPEAR under the tree until sometime on the night of the 24th, so you have that authentic Santa-arriving experience.

(My family was very lackadaisical about the existence of Santa, because my mother recalled finding it very traumatic to learn that there was no Santa. So she never particularly maintained the illusion, much to my grandmother’s chagrin.) 

Any other readers belong to the highly logical tradition of the 24th?

ETA: Kevin’s article is going to be a feature on Intrepid Media in a couple of days, and has thus been pulled (in order to be featured.) I’ll re-link it for y’all when it goes back up.

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