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Perspective: Mature, practical, or just a Scrooge?

Aaron Burden

Every year, come Christmas, I begin to wonder about the gifts I'd like to see under the tree for me. For quite a while the answer has been… nothing. I don't want things for Christmas. Since I let everyone know of my decision early on, I usually end up getting the kind of gifts that uncles give you (and that you eventually will buy) like socks and sweaters. I say thank you, because I appreciate that my family took time to get me the stuff that'd make me happy.

Now, my disdain for things doesn't mean that I don't enjoy the holidays. There's nothing like spending time with the family, doing things together, following traditions or creating new ones. I prefer nice meals, warm nights, and cheer in the air to adding things to my inventory of stuff.

Does that make me mature or practical? Am I just a Scrooge for not sharing the desire to buy and store?

I don't know yet, but the truth is that, whether we reach maturity or practicality at a certain age, some pleasures that money can't buy become priceless. Conversations with friends, a good laugh, shared experiences. These are the things that make us what we are, not the trinkets we store and later misplace.

However, I admit to being very interested in what I may find under the tree. Perhaps instead of a sweater I'll finally get a nice fountain pen.

A Guatemalan native, he arrived in the United States in the late eighties on a Fulbright Scholarship to do graduate studies in comparative literature at the University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana. He has been teaching Spanish language, literature and culture at NIU since August 2000, and his main research interests are 19th-century Spanish American literature.