In a little over a week, now, I will light a cigar.
(This is not Paleo. Tell the police.)
I’ll curl white smoke around my fingers, prop my feet up on the backyard table, and take a long, slow breath under the glow of the Christmas tree winking through the windows. The phone on my lap will tick down, down, down to midnight, and Christmas Eve will close as quietly as it came – the 25th of December, and my twenty-fourth birthday, not far behind.
There was a time, once, when midnight meant I’d be inching the doorknob to the left left, sticking my head out into the hallway, and staring down the darkness to try and get a glimpse of the twinkling colors beyond. There was a time when the sight of the Christmas tree put a hitch in my throat and red and green glitter between my ears, my mind occupied with every gleaming box I hoped would be waiting under that tree come Christmas morning. I couldn’t sleep back then. I couldn’t do much of anything, honestly, but sit on the edge of my bed, waiting for the sun to finally wake up and make it okay for me to sprint out into the living room and dive under the branches.
That was a long time ago.
In a little over a week, now, I guess I’ll do what all the big kids do instead: sleep.
THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
But here’s the thing: I don’t want to.
I don’t want to sleep the whole night through. I don’t want to be twenty-four on the 25th – and while that might sound like I’m rebelling against my age, friends, I’m starting to realize it breaks down more like this.
I don’t want the magic of Christmas – whatever you decide that may be – to be lost now that I can scratch another month off my calendar. I don’t want the fact that I’m older, in other words, to offer some half-assed sort of excuse for not celebrating this day as I should, for not taking it upon myself to reconnect with the core ideas – the core message – of a holiday that’s been glamourized, commercialized, and pulled further and further from its roots.
And isn’t that how it goes? Another year slips by, another holiday comes calling, and these days that once meant something just grow heavier all the while – heavier on the wallet, on the heart, and on the mind of every single person who stops, thinks back, and realizes that they’ve lost touch with a month that used to ask for more than just obligatory gift-shopping.
I don’t want to be like that.
I want to feel that Christmas spirit agains, folks, and I want you to feel it too.
MY BIRTHDAY WISH
Lucky thing, too, that reconnecting – feeling – might be the easiest thing you do during this entire crazed season.
The idea is two-part, but simple.
1. When someone asks you what you’d like for Christmas this year, do the minimalists proud: smile and say “I want you,” pausing for dramatic effect before wrapping it up with one of the closers below.
1. “…to buy me a cup of coffee.”
2. “…to go see a movie with me.”
3. “…to take me to breakfast/lunch/dinner.”
4. “…to stay up late one night and talk about the universe/books/music with me.”
5. “…to spend an entire day with just you and me.”
6. “…to go on a date like we used to/still do/most definitely should.”
Jazz it up as you will, but be insistent. Remind your would-be giver of gifts that you’re doing them a pretty decent favor, here, by sparing them the madness of any shopping mall in mid-December. Remind yourself that you’re missing out on a gadget, shirt, etc., but that you’re gaining something infinitely more long-lasting instead: a memory. You’re gaining an experience shared with someone you love, and trust me when I say that’ll last you longer than any toy ever could.
2. Spend Christmas with your loved ones.
That could be friends, family, pets, etc. The key, I think, is in the implication – the insistence that you spend it with your loved ones, and not with the TV, computer, games, etc. This is something I’ll struggle with, given my immense affection for my laptop, but those very same amorous feelings are exactly why I need to step back and remind myself what I’m doing.
Christmas, I think, is about family. It’s about friends, memories, laughter and (okay, fine) gifts, but here’s the part that boggles the mind: how easily we dump the wrapping paper, finish our cocoa, and hoof it back to our individual rooms before closing the door.
Call me a romantic, I guess, but I’d like to spend the entire day with my loved ones. I’d like to spend it with no TV, no distractions, and no glowing rectangles to keep drawing my attention away from what matters most. This is one day out of 365, after all. These are eighteen(ish) hours out of so, so many in any given year, and yet we can’t spend most – if not all – of them with our loved ones?
Let’s change that. Let’s carry the focus of Christmas back to where it belongs: us.
It’s been a wild twelve months in so many ways: moving, shaking, and even a little remodeling, a few broad strokes of change that have made Matt (soon-to-be 24) a much brighter and bolder person than Matt (23). For all these changes, though, and every bump in this road that I’ve been walking, one thing has stayed unchanged: my birthday wish for December 25th, 2011, and the hope that all of you incredible people will help make it come true.
I asked for 100 people to get on board last year. A cursory glance at the comments suggests I came in just shy of the number, so I’d like to get a little bold with it – I’d like to see 200 people leave a comment below with their agreement before December 25th. Is that stretching? Maybe so. The number of readers (thanks so much!) that visit 3NL, however, means this is oh-so doable, and something I’d dearly love to see even with the limited time frame.
The total number, honestly, isn’t the big draw here. I’m more keen on the idea that I’m not the only person here who wants to change their approach to December 25th, and I want to know that there are dozens of people out there who have made this same choice to recapture the Christmas spirit.
I want to light my cigar, in other words, with the knowledge that people all over the world are going to spend the next day just like me: with loved ones and little distraction, sharing laughter and smiles from then all the way into 2012. I want to watch my clock tick down to midnight and then be so excited by everything written above – and everything waiting the next day – that for a time I can’t even sleep.
And I want to turn twenty-four, I guess, the only way I know how: with a smile.
If you enjoyed this message, friend, please share it using one of the buttons below. 200 signatures is a big wish, I know, but taking just a few seconds to tweet this, like it, stumble it, etc. can go a long way towards making it happen. Thank you so much!