I don’t want a laptop this year. Well, all right, that’s a lie, but it’s not imperative. I don’t want any video games or CDs, any toaster ovens or microwaves, and certainly not any clothes. I could use some socks, I guess — but, again, not important.
What do I want, then? Because surely I’m not writing you to say what I don’t want. I suppose Love would be a good start, but I know that’s too much to ask, almost dangerously so. If you could just plop Love in our laps, or slip it secretly under our trees, how hard would we try to keep it? Already, I want to have love without the work — but that’s a different letter, and probably to a different person.
What I’m writing about today is this: Don’t get me any stereos or TVs or remote control cars this year. What I really want is a few good, solid, character traits.
Now you can Ho, Ho, Ho and all that. The elves can titter; the reindeer can stop their games and laugh until they become so lightheaded that their antlers tip them over. But hear me out — I’ve been wrong these 23 years. I’ve always wanted toys and books and sweaters, I’ve always craved external accoutrements (sorry, I was an English major, words like that slip in sometimes) so much that I’ve just realized I’m dreadfully behind in personal development.
And what really matters, what really needs more gifts, is my head, and not my coffee table. I am looking for Love, or at least one of its Distant Cousins, and if I’m going to find it, I’ll need to be quite an impressive person.
So this year, I don’t want external gifts. I’d like to complement my internal ones. I’m not sure how many I can ask for in one year, or if I’m allowed to make up for lost time, so I’ve settled on asking for only two things this Christmas.
The first is a little more Common Sense. Granted, I could use a lot more — just back the truck up and flood the living room — but I should probably start small. More Common Sense will help me be On Time more often, help me find my bills, pay said bills, make me realize exactly which bottomless chute to pour anti-freeze into as soon as I pop my car’s hood.
Maybe even make it easier to know the Right Thing to Say in those moments, the pivotal seconds where everything slows down like an instant replay, and the syllables that spill from my mouth sound slurred even at half-speed.
Make me at least sound coherent. Maybe.
I’m probably the four billion, one-hundred and twenty-four million, three-hundred and eighty-four thousand, nine-hundred and fifty-sixth person to ask you for Self-Confidence… give or take a few. I’m not asking to be Full of Myself, or Always Right — I think I’d be happy if, on Christmas morning, when I stumbled into the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth, I looked up at the mirror and smiled.
I want to feel like I’m on the same level with everyone else, with the same handicaps and varied assets. I want to know there are people who are glad to see me walk into a room. I want to go to a bar and Know I’m Better than the middle-aged guys in suits and receding hairlines, the ones yelling at the virtual golf game in the corner. Just a little better. Maybe.
I realize you may have a little trouble wrapping these presents, or making them at all obvious — even if you do give them to me, how will I know? You wouldn’t want to go through all that work and not even be recognized, I know, it’s a thankless world where people stop Believing in you by the age of eight.
I can tell you this: I promise to get more use out of these presents than anything else, even more than that blender I got last December, the one for the smoothies — even more use than the books I’m still reading. I realize that they might not work perfectly right away, that some assembly is required, that there is no lifetime guarantee. I’m just sick of relying on external things to justify my existence.
Call it a test, if you will, an experiment. It could catch on: friends and family could start giving each other personality traits, ones that the receiver could never think of themselves. Everyone could start improving themselves, adding to themselves. It could even get us closer the ever elusive Peace on Earth.
Just a little closer. Maybe.