Between growing up Jewish and having a birthday two days before Christmas, it became ingrained in me that holiday presents only happen sometimes. In my world, gifts are never a guarantee, they are a pleasant surprise. Some years, I would get one Hanukkah present, some years I would get 8 and some years, especially when I got older, none. I got a lot of combo holiday/birthday presents. I got a lot of people who skipped over my holiday/ birthday present altogether either because A) who cares about Hanukkah? or B) they were so consumed with the drama of Christmas that they forgot my birthday existed. That’s perfectly understandable. I haven’t been upset about it since middle school. In fact, it birthed my holiday alter ego. Her name is Elfowicz and she is a spontaneous gifter.
Elfowicz’s whole paradigm of gift-giving in general is a bit unorthodox. She is a holiday elf who gives presents randomly, which can be wonderful or annoying depending on who you ask.That means that sometimes, she shows up with a holiday present for her brother in July because she just didn’t find anything she wanted to get him until then. And if she hadn’t been shopping at the bookstore earlier that week, she would have showed up empty handed and happily so. To all of my friends and family who only occasionally get holiday presents from me, or get them ridiculously late, you can finally stop wondering what’s up with that. I’m sorry if it was weird of offensive. It’s just how Elfowicz does.
Below are Elfowicz’s rules of spontaneous gifting. Feel free to join the movement:
1. If you have extra money, go big. When you have the funds for holiday shopping, go buckwild! It’s not often that you find yourself in that position, so when you do, everyone gets top-of-the-line gifts. They don’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful and generous. This will get you through seasons when holiday funds are lean or non-existent.
2. If you are strapped for cash, show up at the holiday/birthday party with a card of plate of cookies. Elves are really good at being cheerful and making stuff. And that’s exactly what you’ll do if you are broke.
3. Only buy if you feel called to. Never force yourself to buy a gift because tomorrow is Christmas and you have to. This will always end in disaster — with you and crappy gift card or something you found in the “As Seen On TV” aisle in the drugstore. Elfowicz only buys presents that make her ears tingle with rightness. Otherwise, she shrugs and walks away.
4. Buy with no expectation of receiving in return. You can never, ever give a gift because you’re expecting one in return. Presents are not tools of manipulation, they are presents. They must have pure intentions and no ulterior motives.
5. Buy what they would like, not what you would like. It’s easy to shop with yourself in mind, but far more rewarding to shop with them in mind. Push yourself.
6. Never buy out of obligation. If you are buying a present out of obligation, that is an affront to the spirit of giving. It’s better to show up and do “this Christmas jig I choreographed for you” then buy some piece of shit doodad with resentment in your heart. If you’re not embodying the spirit, then Elfowicz says, the present doesn’t count.
7. Don’t apologize. Whatever you show up with come Christmas morn — your smile, your best Elfen jig or a new, flat-screen TV, feel secure in the fact that you gave what was in your heart and you did it with love.