Wednesday, December 18, 2013

no shame

When I was eight years old I had a birthday party. My mom was really busy and, with nine kids, super sick of birthday parties. You know how most of us get a little cranky every time our child's birthday comes around? Because you have to plan it and you have to pay for it? And other people's dirty children come to your house and stink it all up? And there are all these gift and cake and decorative expectations? Expectations that can never be met? Well, my mom had to face that nine times every year. I'm surprised she didn't go Jehovah's Witness on us. I would have!

Anyway, she told me that instead of sending out invitations to my party I should just call my friends on the phone and tell them when it was. So that's what I did. My pitch went a little something like this:

"Hi, this is Chris Clark, I'm having a birthday next Saturday at my house from 3-5. Don't forget to bring a present!"

My older sister Page overheard me making these calls and was horrified. It never occurred to me that reminding my friends to bring a present was in bad taste. And, you know what? I'm still not sure that it was. It's a birthday party, and I wanted presents! That's all I really wanted. What if they forgot? Page was scandalized and tried to explain why it was tacky, but it didn't really sink in. Don't forget to bring a present! From the mouth of babes.

I still feel like reminding people to bring me presents on my birthday. I've learned not to do that out of tact, but I still secretly like getting them. I wish it weren't so shameful.

I know we have gift registries for weddings. Why can't we do that for birthdays or Christmas? Why can't I go to H&M or Lowe's with a laser gun and shoot all the things I want? Then I can post online (thank you, social media!) where I'm registered and you can stop by and get me something I really want? I would totally do the same thing for you! Imagine a world where we only got gifts we wanted! No tears, no fears.

Gift Certificates? Talk not to me. They mean well, but they feel so cold and lifeless in your hands, don't they? Sure, I'll get something I want, but I have to trade in a death chip for it. No thanks! I want something heavy and awesome to unwrap in my lap!

Anyway, I know it's never going to happen unless President Obama or Oprah makes it happen. And those people are so busy that they would never listen to little old me. But you can bet I would get them presents for Christmas, and they would get exactly what they wanted!

This Christmas, let's think less about giving, and more about getting. Come on, America!
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