Tinklebutt didn’t want anything for Christmas.  He avoided watching sitcom families barter their feelings and balance friendships in their checkbooks—all with that perfect, fucking smile on their faces.  It disgusted him (and he would be quite frank with you about that).  He would accompany a few friends to the mall as a courtesy, but never failed to deliver an unsolicited harangue at every opportunity.  When his friends gawked at green and red ornaments stacked in cardboard like mangoes, Tinklebutt was quick to swivel one in his hand and point out the price tag.  There was no giving at Christmas, he asserted.  Christmas is the holiday of trading: money for presents, money for wrapping, money for parties, presents for presents, presents for love, and sometimes presents for abuse.  As he passed a marble manger, priced $700, he wondered how much of America’s GDP came from trying to stay happy.


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