By Bob Sparrow and Suzanne Sparrow Watson
Last week we tried a new style of blog – “the interview”. This week we are publishing another format that we hope to continue periodically in 2015 – “point-counterpoint”, or better known as when Bob gets to say, “Suz, you ignorant slut!”.
Bob (BS): So far we’re in agreement; I’ve got a nice rum-spiced eggnog here, proceed.
SW: No, the other kind of Christmas spirit.
BS: Whiskey spiked cider?
SW: Moving right along, I’ve had a hard time finding the spirit this year, what with one thing or another; I think one of the reasons that “the spirit” is so hard to find is the advent of the Gift Card.
BS: Maybe Al is hiding ‘the spirits’ from you; sounds like you need a gift card for a hot-buttered rum
SW: (I’m ignoring him) It used to be so fun shopping for the perfect gift, wrapping it up and filling the space under the Christmas tree with beautiful and shiny packages. When the grandchildren were younger we would wrap up everything in cute paper with big bows and the fun of Christmas was watching them tear open the packages with wild abandon and shrieks of delight. Heck, when they were really little, the box could provide them with an hour of fun.
BS: OK, I see what’s really going on here – you do realize that today’s little kids still get presents that are wrapped in shiny packages and put under the tree, they don’t get gift cards. Aren’t you really saying that unless you have young children around, who may still believe in Santa Claus, that Christmas morning isn’t quite the same? (Do we need a ‘Santa Spoiler Alert’ on this blog in the event that there are still some believers out there?). I don’t think the gift card is the Grinch that Stole Christmas, they have their place in today’s Christmas celebration – they are practical, easy to wrap, easy to hide, they travel well and ‘one size fits all’.
BS: I think you’re beginning to see the light.
SW: But still…buying gift cards elicits all the excitement of getting your oil changed. You go into the grocery store, peruse the gift card rack, and BOOM! you’re done.
BS: That’s what I’m talking about!
SW: (I’m still ignoring him) I have a friend that refuses to give in to the gift card age and continues to buy gifts for her grown grandchildren. Last year I asked her how that worked out and she said, “Oh, they return everything the next day.” But she doesn’t care. She loves the process of finding the gift, wrapping it up and watching as they open the package on Christmas morning. I wish I had her fortitude. I have to say: I hate giving gift cards.
BS: The last time I wrapped a gift, it looked like a wet bow tie on a stack of old newspapers. On behalf of the male gender, who typically don’t like shopping to begin with, much less fighting the crowds this time of year, we love gift cards. The gift card allows guys to do all their Christmas shopping in the grocery store from that gift card rack right next to the beer. Another advantage of the gift card is that you know exactly how much the giver values your relationship.
SW: You wouldn’t want to see the value of the gift card I’d get for you!
BS: OK, there is no question that the gift card will never replace the wonder and excitement of a child unwrapping ‘that special gift’ on Christmas morning. I admit the gift card is indeed ‘less personal’, but like it or not, we live in a world that’s very different from the one we grew up in. I know it sounds trite, but I think the true ‘spirit’ of Christmas lies in the giving, no matter what; be it the perfect gift perfectly wrapped, a picture or another reminder of a wonderfully shared moment, a gift of your time to the less fortunate, or a gift card. Giving is really the only thing that gets me in ‘the spirit’.
SW: I couldn’t agree more; my shared moment came the other night when I sat down with Dash the Wonder Dog to watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. I hadn’t seen it in several years and, of course, Dash had never seen it. When Snoopy came on the screen Dash lifted up and tilted his head to one side so I explained the story to him (and yes, I really have gone around the bend). And in that moment the Christmas spirit finally hit me – there I was on a rainy night, curled up with my sweet dog, listening to Linus simplify the whole season in his beautiful soliloquy: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men”. It gets me every time.
BS/SW: We sincerely wish you and yours a very happy holiday season and may 2015 be filled with many blessings for you, including reading our blog and refereeing our “fights”!