This past weekend Moon and I celebrated an early Christmas with my immediate blood-family. My mom bought her, among other things, a matching leopard-print belt and tank top—precisely her style.
Within the parameters of this capitalist holiday, a la the Derridean gift, the only to make amends for one gift is to give another. In this case, a ukelele did the trick.
While making amends for a garish gift is one thing, making amends for death is another. In this week's piece in Vp's sporadic "Fuck Yeah Christmas" series, Buffy 3.10, "Amends" (1998), broaches the topic during the Christmas holiday in Sunnydale, when Angel, haunted by his depraved "Angelus" past (thanks to the first appearance of "The First" in the show!), resolves that the only way he can make amends for the death and destruction he's caused throughout his centuries-long life, is to kill himself.
Good thing the "Powers that Be" intervene...with a snowstorm just as the sun begins to rise...in southern California. Instead of becoming dust, Buffy and Angel stroll through the Sunnydale winter wonderland.
Logically, "amends" can never recuperate a past or completely negate the reason behind the effort to make emends. During the holidays, however, something shiny or sugar-laden (or, shiny and sugar-laden) often works, provided the magnitude of the wrong. But "sorry," in whatever materialist capacity, never fully cuts it:
Angel: You're not here.
Jenny: I'm always here.
Angel: Leave me alone.
Jenny: I can't. You won't let me.
Angel: What do you want?
Jenny: I wanna die in bed surrounded by fat grandchildren, but guess that's off the menu.
Angel: I'm sorry.
Jenny: You're sorry? For me? Don't bother. I'm dead. I'm over it. If you wanna feel sorry for someone, you should feel sorry for yourself. Oh, but I guess you've already got that covered.
Angel: I am sorry... for what I've done. What else can I say to you?
The ghost of Jenny Calendar makes an excellent point, on more than one front. Making amends usually gratifies the wrongdoer more than the person who was wronged. It is therefore something that is both desired and attained by the wrongdoer. But forgiveness can only be given or bestowed by the wronged person. Regardless of forgiveness being granted, the psyche of the wrongdoer is always the primary agent of concern. Therefore, more often than not, making amends is more a psychological than physical effort.
Angel: Look, I'm weak. I've never been anything else. It's not the demon in me that needs killing, Buffy. It's the man.
Buffy: You're weak. Everybody is. Everybody fails. Maybe this evil did bring you back, but if it did, it's because it needs you. And that means that you can hurt it. Angel, you have the power to do real good, to make amends. But if you die now, then all that you ever were was a monster. Angel, please, the sun is coming up!
Angel: Just go.
Buffy: I won't!
Angel: What, do you think this is simple? You think there's an easy answer? You can never understand what I've done! Now go!
Buffy: You are not staying here. I won't let you!
Angel: I said LEAVE!.... Am I a thing worth saving, huh? Am I a righteous man? The world wants me gone!
Buffy: What about me? I love you so much... And I tried to make you go away... I killed you and it didn't help And I hate it! I hate that it's so hard... and that you can hurt me so much. I know everything that you did, because you did it to me. Oh, God! I wish that I wished you dead. I don't. I can't.
Angel: Buffy, please. Just this once... let me be strong.
Buffy: Strong is fighting! It's hard, and it's painful, and it's every day. It's what we have to do. And we can do it together. But if you're too much of a coward for that, then burn. If I can't convince you that you belong in this world, then I don't know what can. But do not expect me to watch. And don't expect me to mourn for you, because...
...well, because Angel doesn't die. The world—the Powers That Be—apparently doesn't "want [him] gone," and the sudden snowstorm is clear enough of a message that Angel should stay, and that his remorse—and vampire-fighting action alongside Buffy—is adequate amends.