The holiday spirit was dead: to begin with.
Product parties. At some point in your life you’ve sat through a demo of Avon, tried on some Color Street nails, wondered how many people fondled the sex toy you held in your hands, tasted a Tastefully Simple cheese dip, stuck different candles to your nose to sniff them and wondered how many people had fondled them before you, or breathed in the fragrant air of a Scentsy wax and were glad you didn’t have to touch anything.
And you hated it. You hated all of it. You hated the cheap crackers and the plastic cheese the host served. You hated the chocolate cake you made and brought to share because you could tell everyone just thought it was fine and you knew they all forgot about it by the next day. You hated the mixing of the smells from all the products. You hated the fact that you could no longer distinguish one smell from one another after sniffing only the first three of the forty. You hated that you had to pretend you had preferences. You hated the people there for saying that they liked one scent more than another even though you knew they, too, could not distinguish the smells. You hated the host who invited you. You hated the product.
But you bought some anyway. You spent money on an item you were certain was overpriced, an item you never even dreamed you’d purchase in all of your life. You bought those candles that sit unburned in a drawer somewhere in your house; those containers that have only ever contained the air they were packaged with; that sex toy that has never left the trunk of your car, because at the time you bought it you weren’t aware that it came with a free bonus order of shame and embarrassment.
Even after making your guilty and regrettable purchases, and knowing that you hated the whole product party experience, you went to another. And another. Heck, you might have even hosted one of your own.
And don’t tell me you haven’t done this. You have. You do it at least once a year. Your parties are called many things: Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, or simply “The Holidays.” Jeff Bezos is the host and he kindly invites everyone, including you.
It’s a new shower curtain from Amazon* today, because you know you’re not cleaning that thing before people come over, and a turkey from Whole Foods tomorrow. It’s an unnecessary purchase of a Nespresso machine only because it was on sale. Forty-two percent off is a good deal, I won’t argue with that, mathematically speaking. It all happens so fast while you stand around uncomfortably in your dress-up close, holding in your farts. It’s just like that Pampered Chef party you went to years ago. You know, the one where Janice shot you that disapproving look after you took the last helping of the only edible dip they let you try. Only this time it’s not Janice. This time it’s Aunt Betty because the girlfriend you brought this year gave her opinion about the green bean casserole, simply saying it was “fine.”
You don’t want to be at these Bezos product parties either. You’d rather be home in your comfy clothes while your uncontrollable children climb on you and add stains to your sweatpants that are slowly becoming their abstract artwork. Instead, you’re at the Holiday Product Party and your children do the same, except now it’s to your nice sweater, you know, the one you bought specifically for these kinds of product parties, and now your kids’ filthy hands are ruining it. And it’s so hot. You wish you could take it off, but you can’t, that is even if you can get your kids off of you first.
You’ll tough it out though. What else can you do? You’ve spent so much time making regrettable and guilty purchases in the days and weeks leading up to the party that you can’t go home yet. You have to stay for the dessert you made. You know, the green Jell-O salad that will make you sick to your stomach as you watch everyone around you force it down because they’re so full of food but you brought it and they have to at least try it, only if it’s just a little bit. “Oh no, a little less than that, please. Oh, well, that’s okay, I’ll share it with Bill.” Yikes, now Bill has been roped into eating some. Doesn’t Bill have diabetes?
You’ll certainly look forward to the silent and dark days of January and you’ll be glad when it’s all over. But you’ll do it all again the next time there’s a product party. Whether it’s because of some innate guilt or a desire to punish yourself, you’ll be back next year with the same sweater, the same gift cards, and the same green Jell-O salad. You know it’s all a scam and you are aware that the only people that truly benefit are the hosts like Jeff Bezos. But next year he’ll figure out a way to sell you that new Roomba you missed this time around.
*Disclaimer: I do understand the dichotomy I have presented between this post and the fact that I will be self-publishing my first book using Amazon’s services real soon, so there’s no need to call me out on that. Instead, stay tuned for more posts with hyperlinks to products on Amazon and be sure to use them to buy the book for your next holiday product party!