Awesome article L.B.J.! You just made me think about this whole X-mas stuff, I've been putting that off for a month now. I wanted write an article about it, but I missed the deadline, and, heck, yours is better anyway
Incidentally, I find this same problem myself every Christmas. I know I'm socially expected to give gifts to friends and family, but when my interaction with them is so sparse and base, I don't develop enough attachment or knowledge of them to want to give them gifts. When it comes time to give them something, I don't even know what to get. Instead of happily giving from my own desires, I begrudgingly purchase my wares as a man bearing the burden of gift-giving responsibility.
I totally agree. For years now, I don't really connect with my parents and relatives, so getting them presents for X-mas feels more like a chore than an act of selfless kindness. And I don't really want them to give me presents, because it makes me feel like an ass for not connecting with them so often.
As Dr. House said, "...See, this is why no one likes you people. The notion to pick one time of the year, to be decent to other people, is obscene, because it's actually validating the notion to be miserable wretches the rest of the year...
" I agree with the guy. Being "nice" to our friends and family for one day a year makes many people feel awful, because it's reminds them of being asses the rest of the time. That contrast is the problem. And there are people with no family. No wonder suicide rates spike when the Holidays come.
At X-mas, you are really "required" to be nice, because the rules of the Holidays "demand" it. Much like in games, you are required to complete certain tasks, that can be fun, entertaining, boring, or feel like a chore. Healing your party members or rezing people in MMO's are not really considered "nice" per say, because why the hell would you not heal them, or not rez your party members? If you are their cleric and you are in fact NOT healing the party, that is considered douchebagerry, because you are required to be "nice" to them, and that nullifies the "feel good about it" notion entirely.
But when you are not
required to be nice by the rules, but you are, some people are nice to you when they are not required to, THAT will make you feel good. I played Anarchy Online a few years ago, and I was a very rookie player, lvl 2 or 3, I don't really remember, and I had problem using a terminal. There was a guy in a full white armor, and I asked him for help. He not only explained how to use the terminal, but gave me a suit of armor, an implant and huge load of cash "to get you started" he said. As it turned out, he was a top level character. He wasn't required to help me, but he did, and didn't ask anything in return, just wished me a good game. THAT is what nice is. Years later, I returned the favor in RF Online, when I was a top level character. A guy was asking around for help in HQ, and everyone seemed to ignore him. I talked with him for a while, and he seemed decent enough, so I gave him a suit of armor, some powerups and a wad of cash "to get you started" I said. He was jumpin up and down in extasy, he couldn't believe it. ^_^ Some months later, he wrote me a PM, and sent me a top level weapon unique to my class with the note "You helped me when I was in need. Now I'm high level enough to do the same thing, helping others. Thanks for showing me there are good people in MMOs." ^_^
I never felt better in my entire MMO life. ^_^
When you are required to be nice, and your are not, you are considered an ass. But when you are, in fact, not required to be nice, and yet you are, that makes people happy, and maybe nudge them to do the same thing. IMHO.