Every once in a while someone somehow starts and completes their holiday shopping before Christmas. That's the true miracle of the season. Since most of us barely manage to make a list or even consider the ever growing number of resource hogs within our own family, when this wizard proclaims his finish, it's a time of celebration. But there's always some self-congratulating person wandering up to proudly state that they haven't even started shopping. Please don't let that be you.

Just like my parents don't care about how far behind I am on student loans, no one cares that you haven't bought gifts yet. It isn't a badge of honor. It's called being lazy and it's something we all do, so you can stop proclaiming your lack of progress whenever someone mentions presents. We get it: You're irresponsible or forgetful or suffer debilitating procrastination or you're an insufferable asshole-you don't need to say these things out loud. In fact, chances are the people you're talking to have already made this assumption. That, somehow, diligence and/or consideration aren't the first two traits people see in you. Gift buying, like washing your underwear after wearing it once, just isn't a very "you" thing to do.

Again, this is fine. This is how the majority of us feel, but understand that saying it out loud will not absolve you of your sins. So just because someone says they just finished shopping doesn't mean you have to reply in one of these two tones:

  • The Murder Confession: After you hear what others accomplish, you spill everything. The truth is that you haven't even started, haven't even thought about gifts. You look at them hoping they'll sympathize, that, unlike your family on the 25th, they'll say that you are a good person. Which they won't.
  • The Debate Team All-Star: After you hear what others accomplish, you smirk and say that you haven't even thought about starting. In the "I'm an Atheist, Deal with It" bravado, you show your ability to stick it to the Man (Man here meaning the people you know.) You look at them hoping they'll care. Which they won't.

Understand that neither of these tones will help you. In both, you will still have to show up on Christmas empty handed and act like you don't notice the trade deficit. You will still have to convince yourself that people your age don't buy presents. You will have to explain to your grandmother that yes you have a job and no you do not need help. You will still have to hopefully smuggle enough ham that you forget your embarrassment.

Because no one is going to sympathize with you. There is one day a year where society pressures you to give something to the people you care about. The gift requirements aren't too strict. Anything works. People like socks, they use lightbulbs. Even a card with two earnest sentences works. The date is sort of a big deal. Schools and Burger Kings close. There is a music genre dedicated entirely to the day. It is marked on the calendars and emblazoned across Coke cans, so it's not exactly sneaking up on you either. If you want to procrastinate or focus on your own Steam back catalogue or finding those rare Nintendo Amiibos, fine, just hold your breath and soon the other 364 days of self-confined consumerism will begin again, but don't act like you've accomplished something by not accomplished anything.

Anyway, that's what I told myself this morning before I desperately tried to buy a whole list of last minute gifts during a lunch break. Best of luck, y'all.

– Ian "Salmon Season" Golding (@iggolding)

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