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All you Christmas gift-givers are selfish

Gaylord Guenin

A neighbor of mine was in Chicago a day or two after our recent election and she told me that the major department stores in the Windy City already were promoting Christmas.A bit early, you might say, as I might say also. But in this jittery economy, I suspect it is reasonable for merchants to try to milk the upcoming holiday season for every dime they can. As always, there will be those who are offended by the commercialization of Christmas and, as always, a good portion of those same individuals will end up splurging on the most unnecessary of trinkets and baubles to distribute during that joyous season. And why not? Gift-giving is almost as pleasurable as ingesting exotic, dangerous and illegal substances.The subject of gift-giving came up at a recent gathering of the Woody Creek Tavern’s Pissing & Moaning Society and it was generally agreed that gift-giving is something of a “selfish act.” It required quite a bit of convoluted logic to achieve that conclusion, but for once the PMS members seemed to have made some sense. Their thinking was pretty straightforward: That the giver of a gift is likely to take as much joy from the giving as the recipient will take from the receiving. So, it may be that we give gifts to others not as a result of some compassionate and altruistic motivation deep within our hearts, but because of the subconscious realization that it (the giving) will make us feel better. In other words, our giving is not necessarily a generous or benevolent act, it is a selfish one. I enjoy the irony there, the possibility that by being selfish you could actually make someone else happy. And if that is the case, it is something of a “win-win” situation for everyone concerned. I like that!Gift-giving is a rather exotic topic for the PMS members to discuss, but with the election finished they needed something to quibble about and with Christmas around the corner, gift-giving somehow filled the bill. The Tavern has a brand-new metal ceiling, but that didn’t offer much in the way of pissing and moaning as everyone seems to like it. One or two of the more querulous PMS members complained that the ceiling will make the Tavern too noisy but their carping was pretty much ignored. The place has always been noisy, which may be why some of us are attracted to it.But all of our talk about gift-giving and Christmas managed to put me in a rather sour mood. Don’t get me wrong, I love to distribute gifts and I also enjoy Christmas; it’s just that I allowed the summer to slip by without completing a personal project I had in mind.I enjoy summer because it brings such an eclectic collection of “stuff” attached to vehicles. Individuals put their recreational preferences on display for all to see.You see vehicles with windsurfers, kayaks, canoes, fly rods, hang gliders, water skis, surfboards and, of course, those ubiquitous mountain bikes attached to roofs and racks or being towed on small trailers. Without asking, you know what those folks enjoy doing in their spare time. Once winter arrives, the scene becomes one of tedious repetition. Vehicle after vehicle displays nothing but skis and snowboards. Sure, you may spot an occasional fly rod or kayak and a few mountain bikes, but skis and snowboards dominate the scene. Boring!Another irritating feature of ski racks is the fact that in nasty weather, the racks can appear to be a set of those flashing lights found on most patrol cars. Even if you are driving at the speed limit, it is disconcerting to see something in your rearview mirror that looks like a cop car. At any rate, back to the project I failed to complete this summer. Seeing all those vehicles with recreational stuff attached to them made me feel like a real outsider. I have an older Suburban with a rack on the roof, an empty rack that was beginning to look very lonely. But what to put up there?I enjoy fishing, but it seemed as if a couple of small fly rods on top of a huge Suburban wouldn’t make much of an impression. I suppose I could have purchased a used kayak or maybe a windsurfer and attached one or the other to the roof but that would have been a form of lying. I don’t kayak or windsurf and most of my friends would have seen through that deception immediately.A mountain bike was out of the question. If I showed up at the Tavern with a mountain bike attached to my car, either I would have been laughed out of the place or someone would have called the sheriff under the assumption that I must have stolen the bike.It finally dawned on me that I had to figure out what my favorite activity was, which I did rather quickly. This coming spring I intend to buy a couple barstools and mount them on top of the Suburban. I believe that will make an honest statement about my recreational preferences. This is the 310th article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where it is possible to recreate without becoming unnecessarily physical.


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