I hate the holidays. Okay, I've said it. This season is just too commercial for me. People rushing around, buying, wrapping and giving gifts. In some cases, literally trampling each other to death to get at the bargains on what is now known as "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving when the stores run incredible sales, more commonly known as "loss leaders" to get people into the stores to buy other stuff while they're there. After carefully choosing gifts that are especially designed to please the recipients, said recipients run to the stores the day after Christmas to either return or exchange those same gifts. It's insane.
Given this year's economy, I have decided to officially cancel the holidays. Well, at least at my house. No gift. I have already told the friends with whom I've exchanged gifts over the years that I will not be givng gifts, nor do I want to receive gifts. (Never, I should add, have I ever exchanged or returned a gift. If someone thinks enough of me to choose something for me then I appreciate that gesture, that thoughtfulness and the time they've spent in selecting something for me.) I don't want to feel obligated to have to give a gift in return and I don't want to feel like dirt because I can't send a gift this year. My friends won't want me to feel that way, but I can't help it. It's just the way I am. I will feel like that.
I have suggested instead that if they feel compelled to spend money, that they make a charitable donation to a worthy cause instead. If they're at a loss as to which one, I suggest the donor directed fund I set up in my mother's memory at the American Kennel Club's Canine Health Foundation. The Marcia Polimer Abrams Fund for Canine Behavior Studies is set up to receive donations sent to the AKC/CHF and designated for the behavior fund. Donations can be made online or via mail, thereby also avoiding the crowds in the malls.
My friend, Kari, has opted to send a donation to the fund for one of her friends who will really appreciate it. I'm honored that she has chosen this fund. She has also given me a gift far greater than she knows. She loves my behavior book, "Rover, Get Off Her Leg!" She has ordered it for several friends. She placed the order at Amazon and had them ship the books to me to be signed since she lives more than 2000 miles away from me. At my request, she e-mailed a list of personalizations for each book. I signed them and sent them off to her. Then she decided to order some more. Not for holiday gifts but as general gifts to people she thinks will benefit from the book. I'm very grateful to her. My friend, Sue, is also giving my book as a gift to three of her friends.
Unfortunately, Kari insists that she is also sending me a gift and I should just accept it because it will make her happy. I don't think she understands that she has given me a gift far greater than anything else she could choose for me.
I hope that in this economy everyone can find a way to keep the spirit of the season and not lose sight of the things that really count. Friendship. Sharing. Helping. And making each other feel good about ourselves, not inadequate because some of us are having a lousy year.
I wish for each of my writer friends, many assignments and a new book contract for each of us. And I wish for everyone peace, love, happiness and, most of all, peace of mind. And I don't just wish it as a holiday gift but as a year-round gift.
Causes Darlene Arden Supports
The Marcia Polimer Abrams Fund for Canine Behavior Studies at the AKC Canine Health Foundation