The Dilemma of Christmas


Every year about this time people begin to ask The Question.

“What do you want for Christmas?”

The older that I get the more difficult this question is to answer. When you’re a kid it’s OK to want stuff because the only way you get things is by wanting them so much your parents will give them to you. (Incidentally, this doesn’t usually work for ponies).

Then you grow up and start fending for yourself and once you’ve lived on your own for about a year or two you realize that you don’t have to wait for someone else to give you stuff. You want a DVD of that movie you liked? Very well you can buy it! You want new clothes? Pick out whatever you want! It’s a new world in which there is virtually no limit to the stuff you can acquire and once the wild enthusiasm of this newfound freedom wears off you find yourself buying things only because they are a. cheap or b. needed.

Admittedly I fall pretty deeply into the category of tightwad. I actually find it difficult to spend money on myself; both because I like to have money more than to spend it and because I hate seeing perfectly good (clothes/food/household items) going to waste just because I want something newer. It’s not even a conscious thing anymore- there just isn’t that much that I want for.

So when it gets to be Christmas and people begin to ask “What do you want for Christmas?” I find myself tongue tied. Because a Christmas gift is a very specific thing: if it is something that you actually need like socks or underwear it is a poor choice for a Christmas gift. If it is something you want but can’t be wrapped up and put under a tree like funding for a project or debt forgiveness it is also a poor Christmas gift. If it is something extraordinarily expensive like a pony it’s a poor Christmas gift because you just won’t get it. And if it is anything else you can probably buy it for yourself.

So my formula for creating a Christmas list has boiled down to making a list of things that I either want or need but just haven’t gotten around to getting for myself: the gift of permission to self indulge. I also started thinking about things I’d like to do rather than stuff I want: the gift of being there (wherever there is).  This year it also occurred to me that I could suggest that people pick out things like books or movies or music that they like and give it to me to broaden my scope, which is an idea I’m liking more and more: the gift of an open mind.

And if you still don’t know what to get me for Christmas then just stick with office supplies. You can’t go wrong with office supplies.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on November 29, 2012.

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