I never liked being born on Christmas.
For years, I dealt with the same question: “Do you get two sets of presents?” And for years, I’d shake my head no, mourning the loss of this alternate world where the 25th of December brought a literal avalanche of toys and gadgets. I remember thinking that my birthday sucked — and only because my parents did the sane, logical thing and set aside one of my Christmas presents as a birthday one instead.
(Thanks, Mom and Dad!)
As my next birthday inches closer, though, I find myself in a dramatically different place. I don’t want much. Hell, I don’t even need anything. I have everything I need, now, and I can say that with way more sincerity than I used to be able to. I have my family beside me, great friends both on and offline, and all the time in the world to celebrate both equally.
But there is one thing I want this year. And I’m hoping — maybe even praying — you wonderful people can make it happen.
Sparing Someone the Holiday ‘Spirit’
The holidays have lost a lot of their charm.
You can blame it on growing up, but I think there are other factors at work here. What about the sense of obligation that coats the entire month of December? You have to buy gifts. You have to spend hours (and plenty of dollars!) puzzling out what to get, and then spend even more stomping your way through a mall when you can’t come up with something clever.
It’s not fun. Frankly, it’s a pain in the ass.
And it’s a sad departure from the true spirit of the holidays — the chance to share some love and laughter with friends, family, and even the occasional stranger you bump into on your daily routine. That’s Christmas. But that’s not what we encounter, now, whenever December 1st rolls around, and it’s not a perspective that’s easy to keep when the ‘spirit of the season’ demands consumerism and wild excess.
What You Can Do
Get out of it.
When someone asks you what you want for Christmas this year, very kindly say “Nothing but you.“
Be firm. They’ll laugh and insist on getting you something (and if you ask why, give an uncertain response), but hold your ground and stick with that same mantra: “I want you.”
But don’t stop there! There are just a few more words to tack onto the end of that sentence. Here are some examples:
- “to take me to the movies.”
- “to meet me at a coffee house.”
- “to call me sometime so we can talk about life.”
- “to come ice skating with me!”
- “to come have dinner at my place.”
- “to invite me to dinner at your place.”
You get the idea.
You don’t want stuff. You don’t want stocking stuffers or sweaters or any other pointless object — you want an experience with someone you care about, and you want a chance to spend time with friends or family.
You want time to do something fun, magical, or memorable, and share it with someone you love.
Simple enough, right? And here’s a plus: the benefits are enormous.
The Real Holiday Spirit
The other person should love this. You might save them money, for one, but you’ll definitely save them something even more valuable: time. They won’t have to spend hours on the Internet trying to find you the perfect gift. They won’t have to stop a single time and wonder: “Will he/she even like this?”
Of course you’ll like it! They’re spending time with you, after all, and you’re both coming away happier and lighter for the experience. And the best part? You’re giving them something too! You’re offering them the satisfaction of knowing that you truly want to be with them. You don’t want them to get you some pointless gift, but you do want to share your time with them for as long as possible.
You’re giving your time. They’re giving theirs. You’re both smiling and laughing and bonding, the experiences that really should count this Christmas season.
Time: it’s the gift that keeps on giving! And it’s in the real spirit of the holidays, I think, a celebration of friends, family, and those bonds that build us up here on Earth.
My Birthday Wish
I’m going to do what I described above.
I want you to do it too.
When your friends ask you what you want for Christmas this year, make both your life and theirs so much easier with this simple response: “I want you to (super-fun activity).” You don’t have to do it for every friend, but I think it’s a worth a shot — especially when you can get that much closer with the ones who like the idea!
There’s a reason I’ve brought this up so early, too. As of today, there are still a few good weeks before the 25th rolls around, which should be ample time to spread the word about the one thing I want for my upcoming Christmas/birthday.
I want you to join me. I want 100 of you to join me, in fact, by the time December 25th comes knocking.
Is that aiming too high? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m not sure I care, honestly. I think this idea strikes home truer to the idea of Christmas than any all-day shopping spree, and I’m betting so many of you — at least 100! – would agree.
Think you’re up for it? Leave a comment below. And even if you’re not, I’d really appreciate you spreading the word about this as far as you can. I’m trying to give the idea plenty of time to hit that magic number, but who knows? I’m betting you’ll surprise me!
Join me. Leave a comment below saying that you are, and then spread this message as far as you can. Like it on Facebook, Tweet it on Twitter, Stumble it — the medium doesn’t matter. What’s important, though, is reclaiming the Christmas spirit for as many people as possible.
Let’s remind ourselves what the holidays should be about.
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