First, thanks a bunch for all the great gifts in the past year. It’s kind of cool, you even brought stuff that I didn’t put on my wishlist last year, but it turned out I really needed those things, so props for that. You’re really good at coming through for me, even when I’m a little salty about the wishlist items you skip over every year. I get it, you’re really busy. And I know I should be grateful for anything, but to be fair I did take the time to make that list and make sure you had options for what I was looking for, so I have to admit I felt a little cheated. But anyway, water under the bridge. It seems like you have my best interests at heart, so I’m working on accepting whatever you give with joy.
I know when I write you these letters the introduction tends to be brief and my thank-you for last year might seem kind of weak in comparison of all you gave me, but hey, I know you’ve got a lot to do around this time of year so I’m trying to help you out by streamlining this process. And it seems like a waste of both of our time for me to try to convince you that I’ve overall been nice and deserving this year, considering you know everything about me, even when I’m sleeping. So, I’ll get right to my list.
One thing I’d like for next year is a continued sense of belonging and genuine community. This year, you really surprised me with the places in my life that that showed up, and I’d like some more of it. You know, that gradual build into a connection with a friend or group of people that kind of sneaks up on you, until suddenly you look around like, wow, these are my people and they get me and we have fun together, and I’m really happy with that. It’s like the social connected-ness equivalent of if the Eagles were to suddenly appear and sing ‘Seven Bridges Road’ in their perfect harmony. That kind of cohesion and awe in human connection is amazing, and I appreciated the sneak preview this year, so if you could send some more my way that would be grand. People are my favorite, and I know there are a lot more out there you’ll give me the chance to meet and connect with. I also have a sneaking suspicion that a necessary side effect of these new connections will be letting go of old connections, because there’s only so much time in the day, and I know you have new friendships for me. At the same time, there are so many great old friends that enrich my life that I want to keep around. So I think a nice little stocking-stuffer sized add-on for this connection gift in the form of Discernment Radar would really help me navigate the shifting relationships I’m facing at this time in life.
Another thing I’d really like is to see more of the world. I’ve had some great discoveries and re-discoveries this year, but I know there’s so much more. You’re pretty good at providing comfort zones and glimpses of where we are supposed to venture away from them, and I must admit I’m prone to sticking in the comfort zones instead of branching out. One place I did see a lot of was the Isle of Netflix. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great place with so many varieties of shows and movies to be discovered, but as you’re probably aware, there were some periods where it became home base instead of a vacation destination, and even a couple of times it approached a Castaway situation where I wanted to leave but didn’t have the willpower. So, one thing I’d really like is a boat of Motivation, to prevent future risk of getting stuck there. I’m sure that island will stay an old favorite destination, but there are more impressive and joy-filled places I’d like the new year to take me to. One of those is the Sea of Stillness, where I could hopefully learn and practice that challenging act of just being, instead of filling silences and passing time with things that aren’t really helping me grow. Others would be the Canyon of Awe, the Plain of Actual Healthy Daily Habits, and the Forest of Good Ideas. Also, that one rocking chair in a vague mountain range where the genuine desire to just read books and contemplate creation instead of watch TV or listen to podcasts would be a great place for me, if you could provide me a road map to find it.
There are of course actual destinations on Earth I’d like to see, so a car or train or plane of Adventure would be a much-appreciated vehicle to take me to those places. And I’ll need a suitcase full of Courage and Excitement to give me the push to travel when I get the opportunity. I know I’ll need a backpack packed with Responsible Budgeting to fund the trips, and Flexibility to go where the adventure takes me.
As I always not-so-jokingly ask my parents for for Christmas and birthdays, peace is on my list again this year. Peace for me but really for the world. At this point it will take a giant dose of Awareness for every single person. We need to all practice being aware of our own strengths, weaknesses, privileges, different forms of wealth, biases, and failures if we’re ever going to even be able to communicate in loving ways with those we are not at peace with, as individuals and as nations and as genders and races and all the ways we group off. I hope you’ll give me the tools and time I need, and I don’t really know what all those are right now. I think more than anything else what I and most people need is to become better at listening and not trying to take over conversations, better at accepting others exactly as they are, not trying to fit them in boxes that we can understand more comfortably, and better at having an optimistic eye for what we are capable of, instead of feeling disheartened by the shortcomings of the world we live in and the decisions those before us (collectively, people who are broken like I am but who together shaped today’s society) made to get us in the place we are now where people are oppressed, rejected, disrespected, harassed, forgotten, and hurt in many ways. I know you give each of us gifts, from little things that could fit in a stocking, all the way up to communities that need an auditorium to fit in a space together, and I just hope we can use those well as a team this next year. You’ve already gifted me with loved ones and acquaintances who could use a listening ear and a judgment-free zone, so I’m just asking for more fuel to be that.
Those are the main things. Of course, if you could sprinkle in a few good hair days and an at-home manicure or two that look salon-quality, I wouldn’t turn those away. A few instances of anticipatory butterflies would be nice, too. And I know it’s far-fetched, but if you could come up with some sort of glasses I could wear that would help me see myself clearly, that I could also share with others when they’re not seeing themselves clearly, so that we could all have more understanding for how beautifully you’ve made us, that would really do us some good. Or maybe some sort of headphones and goggles we could wear that would translate what we hear from social media and everywhere so that instead of hearing and seeing impossible standards and hateful judgments, we would hear ‘You are worthy and beautiful.’ I’m just spit-balling here, you’re the great [Toy Inventor].
I know the way I’ve known you has been as a more conceptual and special-occasion gift giver, who sometimes gives me what I want, always gives me what I need, and doesn’t stop giving when I stop asking and thanking. But I want to know you also as a constant and tangible gift giver, who I ask for little daily things instead of big and rarely communicated letters/lists like I’ve done today. I’ve heard and seen that you’re a great giver and provider, and I’m not always the best receiver, so I promise to work on keeping my hands and heart open to good things this year and to brag about who I got them from. Not because I think you need the affirmation but because I think others need to hear it.
Thanks for being there my whole life, not just at Christmas, and no matter how much I believe in you.