I don't believe a word of it. I don't believe that a demigod was born some two thousand and ten years ago on this day. I don't believe in demigods at all; I'm an Atheist. So why do I feel bad about not buying anyone a gift (yet) this year?
For the record, I know the answer: it's cultural. I grew up celebrating Christmas, even if it wasn't a religious event for me, so I feel as though I should honour the spirit of the season. Which is fine, but this year I'm poor. I make enough money to feed myself and not much else, where are these gifts supposed to come from? I don't have any brilliant ideas about the perfect gift for anyone, and I don't have something quite so sentimentally cool* as the tarot cards Hangedman (Gold) handed out this year (designed them himself, too!). Besides, I'm beginning to think that I don't really want *stuff* for Christmas, anyway
*It's weird to call something "sentimentally cool", but they're sweet designs and he's got a reason for giving each person a particular card. It's the only thing I can say
That sounds more mature than I am. The reality is a little more cynical, a little more pragmatic. The things I like are toys, and usually they are tech toys. I read reviews, I look at benchmarks, I fuss over settings...the joy of technology for me is total involvement. Getting a tech gift is wonderful, but at this point I'm going to start making the kind of money where I can buy my own. It no longer feels very nice to ask "santa" for this stuff, 'cause it's pricey. It's a hobby; an investment. Lego is almost the same way. It used to be that my means were insufficient to get a lot of this stuff on my own, but now I can maybe squirrel away a little cash for a videogame here, a video card there...waiting until the 25th December seems arbitrary, and also mean because rather than make someone else buy the stuff, I can get it for half price the day after. If I could wait this long, why not one more day?
What I'm saying is, the things that I want from other people aren't really the things they have to buy me. I just want to get back into town and spend time with the people I've been missing. I honestly don't care if they buy me videogames or not. As awfully trite as this will sound, I'm with the guy hit hard by the recession asking "santa" for a job! That's the kind of thing I'm looking for right now: peace of mind, some concrete goals for my future, a decent job in the new year...and no one can give that. It's just another thing I have to work for.
That's not to say I'm ungrateful for what I did get this year. I got some clothes, I got a "plumbing auger" for unclogging my drains, some books and old Analog SF magazines...and of course the ever-important chocolate orange. I guess what I'm saying is that it's hard to miss with the small stuff, but the big gifts? I'm a big kid and I can buy my own toys now.