Since my mid- to late teens, the inevitable, though heartfelt and always sincere, question from my mom and dad has been a source of heartache for me:
What do you want for Christmas?
The older I’ve gotten, the harder it is to answer that question. Isn’t the season about Jesus Christ, a renewal of faith and a time to take stock of the past year? Isn’t it a time to heal old wounds, ask or give forgiveness, or count one’s blessings? You don’t even have to be a Christian to understand or honor that.
Yet I grow more troubled every year by the commercialization of the holiday. Each year Christmas stuff is in the stores a little earlier, it seems; gifts become more expensive; those who have little suffer incrementally more and are able to buy less or nothing for loved ones; and why can’t people act in the spirit of the season year-round? From about Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, I find myself in a rut that gets increasingly harder to emerge from.
So what do I want for Christmas? As many of us here in the U.S. turn our attention to Christmas, here’s some new traditions I’m proposing as well as gift ideas for me you won’t find in the stores or online:
• How about limiting gifts to three per person? If we each get three gifts at most, we’ll only be getting the gifts we really, really want, and hopefully people can save money instead of feeling as if they have to buy oodles of gifts for one another.
• Kids should get fewer gifts. What can one child possibly do with so many toys? I still have stuff from my childhood I’m trying to figure out what to do with, and I’m about to celebrate 20 years out of high school!
• For every gift we get, let’s give away something we own already. We have too much stuff as a culture, and I bet two-thirds of the crap we have is stuff we don’t use.
As for me, what do I want for Christmas? How about:
• Someone new as Batman and a new look for the Batman costume: The “fat bat” logo, as I like to call it, is worse than the trend of brown cars being a thing again. I’d love for Batman to adopt the dark blue and gray look as a nod to his original outfit.
• Cooler summers here in Austin: It gets hotter than hell’s attic here, and it’s one of the few drawbacks of being a Texan. But it’s a huge drawback.
• Socks that never lose their mate: Lone socks are exiled to the Land of Wayward Socks when I do our laundry until I find the matching sock. I always feel bad for the socks that are all alone. Maybe they’re some deeper psychological insight into myself to be found here? Nah.
• No homeless people in Austin: What if everyone here, in this city of extraordinary wealth, had a home, work of some sort and a community to be a part of? It doesn’t seem that far-fetched to me, and the city is working on a similar program—but I want it now. More affordable housing would be a great stocking stuffer, too.
• More wins for my 49ers: They’ve won two games so far this season.
• A Katy Perry concert stop in Austin: How hard can that be, Katy? We’re the “Live Music Capital of the World,” after all.
• Me being better at small talk and social situations: Such occasions are easily my most uncomfortable, but they’re not always avoidable. Add in dancing, and I’m in my own hell.
Then again, if you get me all of these for Christmas, dear reader, it would violate my proposal for three gifts per person. So choose wisely!