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T'is the Season

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Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice--no matter the occasion, the economy is surging with purchases at this time of the year. Mommies and daddies peruse the shelves for the last Tickle-Me-Elmo while husbands and wives try to find that perfect diamond necklace or tool set.

Many gifts this season will have one pesky thing in common: they'll be off of a list.

When I was little, making my wish list was the sign of the season. Even before the first snowflake would touch the dying grass, my list was made and checked twice. I couldn't even spell the word "computer" before it was written at the top of my list. There was no hesitation in my ability to tell people what I wanted. Then, as Christmas rolled around, I would get almost exactly what I asked for, and I would enjoy it.

One year, I tore open the wrapping of a present to find something I had not included on my list. I pulled out the charcoal pencils, the canvas paper, the clay erasers and sketchbooks. And suddenly, I realized that up until that moment, every gift I had received off of a list was less meaningful than this. The items on that list had been place-holders--a way for me to tell somebody who I was in terms of material things I wanted. But seeing somebody already know who I was, someone who knew me well enough to choose a gift I never would have considered, made my mind reel and my heart spin. How long had I been defining myself for others that don't know me, so that they can purchase little extensions of my existence off of a grocery list?

Since then, I've made strides to become that sort of gift giver. No longer am I bound to "special dates" to give. Instead, I allow gifts to be small extensions of my admiration for individuals that I express when I am particularly compelled to do so. I've annihilated the idea that my gifts must be tangible to be real. Gift-giving is like any art, whether it be poetry, painting, music, or drawing, in that by being obligated to partake in the art, the very inspiration that makes the art so beautiful is lost entirely.

So as I've grown older--as I listen more, talk less, create more, and want less--I have realized that the best things a person can do for another are wanted by one, known by the other, and never said aloud by either.




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