The Cocoon: "Gifted"

Here’s the thing about Christmas gifts: people generally give the kinds of gifts that they want to get. If you’ve got those friends who give you bottles of wine or whiskey every year, it’s more than likely they just want the same in return. Or those friends who aren’t big on giving gifts? They’re not expecting anything in return. So when it comes to receiving gifts from your parents, there’s like a 90% chance it’s going to be kind of lame. Sorry, Mom.


So after about 22 years of sensible, warm, and not particularly stylish sweaters — always a size larger in case I need to grow into it — I decided I needed a way to get rid of these excess gifts.

And to add to this dilemma, I’d started working and the office Secret Santa is nothing if not a whirlpool of meaningless tschotskes.

Something had to give.

So that’s how my friends and I created Cheapmas. A saver’s holiday where we could get rid of useless crap by regifting it to one another, imbuing our shitty gifts with some sense of ironic sentimentality. We could also pool together our leftover New Year's booze and create a festive jungle juice. It was the perfect frugal holiday!

My roommate and I set a date — the first weekend of the new year — then in true Cheapmas fashion, forgot about it until a few days before.

But that’s the beauty of a frugal holiday — our lack of preparation simply set the mood for the celebration. We mixed together our crude jungle juice in our trash can — with a fresh trash bag of course, we are no barbarians.

We even created fun traditions, such as hiding 99-cent store Christmas cards throughout the house — anyone who stumbled upon one had to take a shot. We even wrote up lyrics to a Cheapmas carol, should anyone feel inclined to sing. No one did.

When it was all said and done, Cheapmas was a great success. We managed to liven up that post-partum depression of early January with a fun, regret-generating holiday. But that’s also how, instead of culling down my useless crap, I ended up with:

A porcelain swan with human lips. A rusty Viking sword. A box set of Charles Bronson DVDs. A Smurfs lunchbox. Knock-off GI Joe action figures. More water guns than you could use in a lifetime. Spanish coloring books. And, last but not least, the one gift my Mom could never give me: a splitting hangover.

William Tran