My Christmas gifts to others are falling into four categories this year (uh, spoiler alert): free, almost free, events, or charity.
Free or almost free: My family started the “free or almost free” Christmas tradition two years ago, and it’s my favorite thing. I never have to set foot in a mall in November or December. Do you understand how freeing that is? Instead, I spend the year gathering free things, or making things, or buying ridiculous things for a couple of dollars. This can result in a pile of junk, or it can result in putting more thought and effort into gifts than I’ve ever bothered to in the past. Last year my mother made me a t-shirt quilt, which is currently wrapped around my shoulders. Two years ago, I drew a portrait of my grandfather for my dad. It was a moving experience for me to draw it, and to watch him open it.
These handmade or sentimental things are worth so much more to me than, say, the DVD of North and South that I totally want but can buy myself. And it makes me love the season, rather than dread it. I can even listen to Christmas music without wanting to scream. Except for “Little Drummer Boy,” of course; I’d rather shower with a bear than listen to that thing one more time.
Events: It turns out that in addition to family, I have some friends. They’re not as big of fans of the “free or almost free” concept, and also it is way harder to make things than buy them for most people. So I’m trying to give events, if possible. A night out. A sporting event. A beer festival. And less imaginative things too: the promise of a visit to friends who are moving far away. Dinner and drinks some night. A party at my place (this is only a gift as long as I don’t do the cooking). It’s the most selfish of all my Christmas-giving, since I get to enjoy the events in the company of good people.
Charity: Look, I volunteer a lot. I’ll be working with the Salvation Army in the coming weeks (including being on TV), I recently got Lacy to serve dinner with me at a shelter and we’re looking forward to doing it again, and I’m going to count the 45 minutes I spent agonizing over the perfect Barbie for Toys For Tots as “Charity” rather than “A Sad Activity For An Adult Woman.” But this is not so much about what I’m doing as what I would like you to do.
Yeah, guys. That’s right. I’m asking you to be good people again.
If you are the type of person who wants to give me something for Christmas, just give me this: the promise that you will support my volunteer efforts from time to time this coming year. You can throw money at me, or come to FMSC sometime, or not make fun of me when I show up at a bar with craft supplies stuck to my person. Let me know you’re interested, so I don’t have to feel like I’m bothering you. In return, I’m going to try to stop bothering you.
So there. That’s all I want for Christmas, plus maybe to win the lottery. I just wanted to tell you that.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
Also, this cannot be watched enough times this season: