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I have never gone Christmas shopping in my life, unless you count middle school where my mom gave me $20 and I gave my friends notebooks and lipgloss. I’m sure that this year will be similar to those times as I’m pretty broke, but this will be the first time I’ve gotten gifts for my whole family.

I hate Christmas; I’ll get that out of the way right now. Part of it is because I’ve always felt that it was such a thinly-veiled excuse to get people to buy things as well as a chance for people to pretend that they care about homeless people and family members that they hate during the rest of the year. However, most of my disdain for Christmas comes from the fact that I feel guilty for receiving gifts.

One of the worst bipolar symptoms for me is the unrelenting guilt that plagues my every move. If I hurt someone or threw a tantrum as a child I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. My brain would run through the memory of what I did and I would feel so much guilt about acting that way, as well as shame and embarrassment. I still have attacks of guilt like that at 20 years old .

Even as a little kid I hated opening Christmas presents. I always wondered what I did to deserve them. Why should I get presents because someone was born a long time ago? What about the people in the streets who couldn’t even afford to eat while I opened my fourth Barbie doll? I didn’t understand why family members that I never saw for most of the year would shell out money to buy me something when I had no way of reciprocating. I always saw gifts as a burden of my debt to the person giving them to me. Why would they give me something unless they wanted something in return?

I’ve gotten a bit better at accepting gifts over the years, but I still feel the guilt on some level. I’m hoping that my shopping trip with my friend T will let me flip the tables. If I’m participating in the exchange of presents, will I still feel guilt? I love giving people gifts throughout the rest of the year; will I start to understand the joy of giving during this season after this Christmas?

I’m not certain. But I’m hoping that by taking on the role of giver that I will be able to enjoy more of this damnable season.

-Ashes

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