I have often maintained that there are two complementary myths that fuel America. One is that, with enough hard work and perseverance, anyone can become rich and famous. The second is that rich and famous people are generally unhappy and would do anything to enjoy the simple pleasures of the normal folk.
Obviously the second one is needed to cover the ass of the first one. Since the reality is that most people can’t actually get to those grapes, it’s necessary to assure them that the grapes in question are actually quite sour and unpleasant. This assurance is usually provided by people who are busily ripping the grapes off the vine and cramming them into their mouths with as much gusto as possible while laying mines and razor wire around the vineyard.
After being told that regular folks can’t get a tax break unless the very wealthy get one too (and a larger one, at that), it’s nice to be assured in a Vanity Fair article that, despite owning the government, the corporate world, and, by extension, us, our wealthier betters are terrible at giving Christmas gifts.
On such occasions, members of affluent clans almost invariably present each other with items that have no value to either the giver or the receiver. Because the person in either position certainly has the ability to purchase whatever he or she desires independently, receiving extra stuff simply for the sake of propriety carries little meaning. There’s also the plain fact that blue bloods are notoriously bad at relating to one another emotionally, so gifts rarely resonate on a deeply personal level or transcend any material significance. To illustrate the point more fully, I’ve assembled a list of uninspired gifts that regularly appear in distinguished homes on this most magnanimous of holidays.
What then follows is a “hilarious” list of these thoughtless, worthless gifts that these hollow, yet moneyed, shells of humanity bestow upon each other. Horrible things, such as Hermes scarves (“genuinely superior luxury items” dispensed out of “sheer social necessity”), coffee-table books (“what is given to people who almost qualify to receive an Hermes scarf, but aren’t quite worthy of that superior generosity”), and alcohol. As the writer states:
Christmas, of course, is the time of year when affluent gentleman pinch the overstocked selections from their wine cellars and bring them over to the homes of friends, suggesting that such vintages are rare delicacies.
So, this Christmas, if you’ve lost your job earlier in the year, had unexpected medical expenses drain your account, or lost your home in the mortgage shell-game and you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to cover basic needs, much less gifts for the kids, take heart: at least you’re not having to choke down substandard wine.