Saturday, December 24, 2011

Give and Get Pie

Spoiler alert: This post describes Christmas presents that have not yet been delivered.

As I write this, Christmas Eve has turned to Christmas in much of the world. The pope took the occasion as an opportunity to decry the commercialization of Christmas, urging people to see through the bright lights and tinsel.

This is, of course, not a new thought. The satirical Christmas rock band I play in, Bah and the Humbugs, makes fun of the commercialization of Christmas every single year. But what, specifically, can one person do to make Christmas less of a competitive commercial experience?

Last year, I wrote the song “Give and Get Pie” to urge people to consider giving more personal, handmade gifts, such as pie, at Christmas. Right away, people commented that it sounded like the title of a Paul McCartney song (as if I hadn’t been aware of that), and attempted to sing the song to the tune of “Live and Let Die.” The mashup was something of a train wreck, but at least they were putting their own thought and attention into it. I remember those moments more vividly than any factory-made product anyone gave me last year.

When I wrote the song, I had meant pie as just an example, but when I thought about it, it seemed an especially good example of a handmade Christmas gift. Pie is part of the Christmas tradition already, and pie is a consumable, perishable product, so it can’t add to people’s clutter from year to year. This year, I decided I would try to live up to the idea of “Give and Get Pie” by giving pies for Christmas.

As I write this, the pies are in the oven. I have never baked so many pies at once. I do realize it won’t quite work out if everyone I give a pie to also gives me a pie. I couldn’t possibly eat that much pie myself! If it comes to that, maybe we could arrange to make smaller pies. But if some of the pie ends up going to waste, that risk is no different from that of any other Christmas gift. With pie, at least, the financial consequences are slight. The cost of materials is about $3 per pie. Even if you were to go for something extravagant, it could not exceed $10. This is not much compared to gifts I have given in the past. Even the time commitment is not extravagant. If I end up spending 1 hour per pie, that is less time than I have sometimes spent agonizing my way along the store shelves trying to find a suitable gift to buy.

After people started trying to sing “Give and Get Pie” to the tune of “Live and Let Die,” I had to help them out by writing proper parody lyrics that would actually go with that tune. For those Paul McCartney fans who want to try to sing along, it starts out something like this:

When you were young and you wrote out a Christmas list
You used to say give and get gifts
But if this endless Christmas commercialization
Makes you give in and cry
Say give and get pie.

The pies are almost done, so I have to go. Merry Christmas!