Give the Gift of Garbage

Holidays with the shithearted

I want to defend the good-hearted shithead—the shitheart—because this time of year is tough on us. We mean well but we are squirrelly and contrary by nature, and we think so much of you patient loved ones that we can get you nothing at all. To me, you are more than a department store or a website or a gift card or even some misshapen last-minute homemade wuv-you, and if I want to give you something, I want to give you the best. And the best things I know are the things I already own.

It's the true spirit of the season. The three magi didn't detour off to the Bethlehem bazaar for anointing oils—they gave what they had. Maybe it's cheaper but I was feeling pretty cheap pushing cash across a counter, and although the thought kind of counted, I think I was mostly stocking the landfills of the future. Santa loves a landfill: it gets every present eventually.

So I wanted to give people something I cared about. I'm sure you got favorite books or music of your own and if you aren't one of my regular readers you might even share them—always buy Buck Owens records you see in the bin or something. But I'm funny about specifics and same isn't exact same.

Like I would go to visit my parents and find soft old paperbacks on my dad's bookshelf—they were the same books that he had marked up back when he was in high school and by now they were almost feathers in my hands, and I'd carefully carry them home in my jacket pockets because I didn't trust the airline people not to wreck or lose them. It was just common stuff you'd get for a dollar or so used—kind of garbage if you want to score gifts. I already even had a lot of them. But not those ones. That's a funny sentimental thing, but I was feeling like that lately. Probably it was the usual winter morbidity.

So this year everyone gets garbage. I'm giving stuff I've probably had for a long time, and that I probably took crummy care of—that's shitheart nature, too. But it's my own garbage that I loved a lot, and if I give it to you, it's because I think you would love it too. And when it finally goes to the landfill, it will have been so loved that the seagulls will fight over it until it falls apart. That's not the perfect gift but it's pretty good for this year.

 
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