Christmas can be an overwhelmingly-super-awesome-crazy-nearly-out-of-control-happy kind of a day (especially if you’re a kid), and Christmas can also be a grate-on-the-nerves-push-every-freaking-button-I-have-get-me-the-hell-outta-here kind of a day (usually more when you’re an adult). My Christmas day was exactly in the middle, a snow-softly-falling-get-to-watch-children-open-presents-nestle-in-a-cozy-home-with-family kind of a day.
I experienced several delightful moments throughout the day, but one of the highlights for me was the gift opening. Every year I ask for the same gift for Christmas (and my birthday, and any other time someone wants to get me a present): That the person take whatever money they would have spent on a gift for me, and donate those funds to a charity of his/her choice. Many people don’t believe that this is what I really want for a gift; but truly, honestly, sincerely, this is what I really want. Fortunately, my family “gets” it – and this year for Christmas I received:
- a note in my stocking that read, “Sorry, the toy for your stocking went to Toys for Tots. :)”. I love knowing that one more child received a gift this year.
- a donation to This American Life – one of my favorite NPR shows. I adore the eclectic-yet-meaningful (yet still entertaining) shows that Ira Glass and his crew produce; and I personally believe that their work brings attention to issues that can otherwise go unnoticed.
- a shipment of animal products sent to a world hunger relief organization. I felt a palpable sensation of relief in my chest knowing that a family somewhere in the world now has a sustainable source for milk to drink or eggs to eat.
- a contribution to the Ronald McDonald Dental Van – which provides free dental exams, xrays, and cleanings to young people. In my opinion, there are two areas of the body that, when hurting, can make life nearly unbearable: the feet, and the mouth. I am so happy that some young adults will now be spared some rather-easily-avoidable pain.
- a donation to a college scholars program, which funds a variety of unpaid internships – so that college students who really do *need* to earn money for their higher education can do so, while still getting an experience that ultimately makes them more hirable for a professional position once they graduate. I feel really pleased that students who need to catch a break are getting the chance to earn one.
At the end of the gift opening, I sat with several pieces of paper in front of me – and felt a physical sense of love, compassion, and contentment that had me smiling for much of the day. I had a very good Christmas this year.