Merry Christmas underprivileged upper-middle or lower upper class family!

Christmas is the time for giving!  From time to time, I like to throw my pocket change (not quarters though!) into the bucket of the Salvation Army bell ringer and scoff at those who walk by giving nothing as though I’m some sort of everyday philanthropist.

Unfortunately, it is also a time for family.  Not just the family that you’re stuck living with every single day of your life, but your extended family.  Aunts, uncles, grandmas, cousins, second cousins…you know, people God chose to bond you with by blood even though you would never have picked them to be a friend were you given a choice.  Oh, God, you funny rascal.  Wonderful!

My family is mostly great, but we’re also mostly white trash (you’re white trash, Aunt Peggy, don’t fight it!).  We all live paycheck to paycheck, we like our beer and wine, our St. Louis Cardinals and to be left the fuck alone by everybody else in the world. 

We also cling to tradition as though it’s as necessary to our being as oxygen. 

One such tradition that won’t go away is the dreaded Christmas List!  Oh, that freakin’ list!  It’s become like the Christmas Elf that won’t stay on the shelf …It was cute and fun for a while, but now it’s just another chore that has to be dealt with.

Current wives who were excluded from the precious list when they were only girlfriends (you weren’t family then bitches!) wish they could be excluded again!  Like the forbidden fruit of Eden, it sounds great, but once you’re in, you’re fucked.  There’s no getting off the list.

Were there a vote by the adults in the family as to whether or not to keep this list going, my guess is that the results would be somewhere around 96% against doing the list, 3% for doing it, and 1% who don’t give a fuck either way.

Unfortunately, like United States politics, it’s not what the majority wants, it’s what the loudest, most annoying people demand that rules.  We carry on with the list to shut these people up (you know who you are).

I can’t even explain why I hate the list so much.  Part of it is because there are five us having to buy gifts, so that’s $100 out of my pocket right there ($100 divided by $11.99 per 12 pack = 8.34 12 packs I could have had instead).  Aside from that, I see some of my cousins once a year, if that!  I don’t buy gifts for my coworkers and they’re with me nearly every day.  We work together, we go to lunch together, we get together from time to time outside of work, but they’re not on my Christmas list.  I know more about the lives of these coworkers than I do about most of my cousins.

This year, my wonderful aunt living in Connecticut has my name.  Yes, this is the same aunt who blessed us with the Elf on the Shelf book back in 2007.  She texted me wanting to know what I wanted for Christmas.

I’m a nearly 40 year old man with a wife and kids.  What I need or want can’t be had for $20, so in light of the tragedy not too far from her home in CT, I told her to just donate whatever she was going to spend to a Backstoppers type organization or to something for the school/families.  I thought that would be nice, plus then I could scoff at those who have given nothing again!

Instead, I got the following email:

 Hi All:

Ok since I believe poor P got backlash from all the Family grinches (including myself) about the gift exchange (albeit it could have been sent earlier), I think maybe in the end, the Family should feel a little better about themselves on Christmas morning.  When contacting J/T/Me about presents, all said they needed nothing but to do something good with the money.  Of course I was going to ignore this and was headed out to shop for some probably silly gift that no one needs.  I happened to see on TV a  little news clip about people doing just random act of kindness for each other — opening doors for others – buying strangers in line a cup of coffee, etc.  People were doing these things and then tweeting about it so it was becoming contagious.

 So I know we all feel very sad and our hearts are broken after last Friday’s tragedy.  Maybe we all just need to start being nice to one another as well as others….. I decided to go to Wall mart and pay off a layaway of a family in honor of all of you who wanted your gift to be that of helping others.  I picked a family with children and toys — it was randomly chosen but the woman helped me make sure it was a family with children.  So on Christmas morning you won’t have an extra “bad t-shirt” to open but a child may have a little bit more food on their table for the kindness of a stranger and hopefully that family will pass the good intention on to the next person/family and then to the next……

 Merry Christmas Family — good job XX– if you had not been tenacious in making us all take off our “Bah Humbug” attitudes, that family would not be getting the surprise gift from strangers.

 Much Love —

 PS — this includes the gifts that were suppose to go to G from D and me from T.

 Merry Christmas

 Aunt

At first I thought, what a great idea!  I’m all for doing nice things for strangers.  I hold doors open for people when I go into a building and I give a courtesy wave when people let me over in traffic.  I’m nice like that!

Then I thought, good God, how far does my aunt (they have a little bit of money) have to drive to find a place where she believes “poor people” shop?  Well, it turns out there’s a Walmart not but five miles away from her city.  Notice my aunt spelled Walmart Wall mart, that’s how often she shops there.

The city she lives in has a median income of $171,806 per household, according to one source.  Towns nearby are similarly situated financially.  Holy Fuck!  The median income where I live isn’t half that!

Then I recalled that WE used to put stuff in layaway!!  My mom did it all the time at Kmart and by no measure were we poor or needy.

Layaway is a convenience for some people, not a necessity.  I’d use layaway today and I’m certainly not needy.  I’m not rich or even comfortable depending on which week of the month it is, but far from needy.  It’s plausible that a wealthy person put a bunch of crap in layaway at Walmart for her snotty rich kids or grandkids and was going to send one of her house servants to go pick it all up later on. 

I may have just helped buy Christmas for a family better off than my own.  If that’s the case, Merry Christmas stranger, I pray you aren’t a total asshole! 

Hopefully, you appreciate the gesture and do pay it forward as people have been saying.

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13 Responses to Merry Christmas underprivileged upper-middle or lower upper class family!

  1. OMG…This one just made me laugh and laugh!

  2. mistyslaws says:

    Yeah, that was my first thought. Not everyone who shops at Walmart is poor. It’s a lovely sentiment, but a bit misplaced. I liked your idea of the charity for Newtown (I’m assuming that’s what incident you meant) a bit better. Or better yet . . . stop with the list already!

  3. barbtaub says:

    Don, you are a judgemental SOB… You just can’t tell what can make a difference in someone’s life. Your aunt was trying to do something good, and for all you know she did just that. I remember once that our family had just been through a very difficult event and we were all shaken so we decided to go out to dinner. When I asked for a check, the waitress said that another couple had been so amused by my children’s conversation (it was a period when they were devoted to using the correct terminology I had been stupid enough to teach them, so penis and vagina received constant references) that they had insisted on paying my bill. Don, I could certainly have afforded to pay for that meal. For all I know, I could afford it more than my anonymous benefactors. But I assume they enjoyed their act of kindness. And more than that, it was an amazing, earth quaking, slap upside my head to remind me that things were NOT that bleak, the world was NOT against me, and lots of good things were waiting. Maybe your aunt’s gift won’t change someone’s life. But I guarantee they will always remember it. If they can afford to, I’ll bet they pay it forward. I know I’ve bought meals for other families since then.

    So Don — yes, I’m calling you on this one. One of the things I love about your writing is your generous open heart. I hope that’s the Don who comes back in your next post.

    • Well Barb, I’m glad this isn’t the first post you’ve read then because it sounds like you’d not have come back. I see your point, to some extent. While I would agree that the thought was probably well intentioned, there are so many other ways to give while ensuring that it’s going to somebody who really needs it. Of course, I’d rather an appreciative rich person get our gift than some douchebag poor person, so there’s that too. I know I would be blown away if somebody did it for me, especially since I’ve never put anything in layaway before. Deep down, I’m sure it was appreciated by somebody. Have a Merry Christmas!

      • barbtaub says:

        Nah, you can’t get rid of me so easily. I’ll always be back for more!

        Oh, and in the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that I also like The List. With ten siblings and over thirty next-gens in our family, you better believe we draw names for presents. I don’t even want to think about an alternative. But it is just ONE name. The whole idea is that you don’t have to waste a ton of time thinking up things to give people.

        I think… yup, I’m done trashing your post. Only thing left to say is Merry Christmas! I can’t wait for another year of DOAT.

  4. Don, only YOU would inadvertently help the OVER-advantaged instead of the DIS-advantaged! Too funny!

  5. I bought my flatware at Walmart eons ago. At first I thought I’d just buy a few sets here and there, but then what if they ran out of that particular style? So I bought two and put three in layaway.
    I think a lot of people do that so that when they have more money, the product they want will still be there. Searching for particular toys can be brutal this time of year…
    I’m sure your aunt thought she was doing a good deed, and she did, whether the recipient was poor enough by your terms.

    You’re a stange man, Don.

  6. I love it! I was sitting here thinking, “Hmmm…maybe I should go pay for some stranger’s lay away at WalLmart and wrap that and put it under the tree for my 6 year old.” Seriously, and I felt the pit of dread at having to step foot in Walmart less than a week before Christmas, but then I read the last part. Thanks for saving me the trouble. I’ll open a door for someone instead. Merry Christmas!

  7. Linda Roy says:

    omg – hilarious! And the part about the rest of the world leaving you the fuck alone…LOL…Amen!

  8. ercatalano10 says:

    Favorite line: “I’m a nearly 40 year old man with a wife and kids. What I need or want can’t be had for $20.” ha!

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