I mean to write this every year but never get around to it in time. I have a lot of reasons to dislike the holiday season. The primary reasons are the compulsory gift-giving, the layers of lies perpetuated to new generations, and the renewed loss of hope in humanity… but I'll save that rant for another day. I'm writing this to tell you why you shouldn't get me a gift, provide you with the few types of gifts I will accept, and (as extra motivation) tell you what I'll do to unacceptable gifts.
Don't buy me a present. Don't even buy me a card. As an atheist, there are no holidays I celebrate between Thanksgiving and New Years (although I have a fondness for Boxing Day). If you get me something, I will feel religiously repressed, disrespected, and also guilty that I wasn't compelled to force an unwanted gift on you. And consider how dangerous shopping gets to be this time of year. I would feel terrible knowing you got trampled or shot just to get me something, and that doesn't even take into consideration the potential financial damage you'll probably be suffering after the holidays. If you're just really into the mandatory gifting thing, your gift to me can be that I don't have to get you a gift and my gift to you will be that you needn't get me a gift. That relieves us both of the stress and financial burden of finding one another a gift. If that doesn't satisfy you, then go spend whatever money you would spend on me on yourself. No matter what, you will not be getting a forced present from me.
For the extremely persistent, the gift I will most happily receive will be a donation (in my name, if you'd like) to a secular humanitarian or environmental charity. That doesn't have to be a monetary donation. Donating your time, non-perishable foods, clothing, hair, blood, etc. will be more than I could ever ask. Go read at a children's hospital, adopt an endangered animal through the World Wildlife Foundation, carol at a retirement home, or even send a soldier a card (support our troops, not our military). If you'd like a suggestion, send me a message and I'll look up a few from which you can choose. You can tell me about it or you can not tell me about it, I am perfectly happy either way.
Please know that, above anything else, I'd really prefer either nothing or charity. If you don't want to go either of those routes, don't worry; there are other very limited options. You can send me favorite recipies. You can handmake me something cool. You can make plans to do something with me. You can give me a call. You can send me a mix CD. You can send me a handwritten note (no store-bought cards please). Anything small and personal that will make me smile and that doesn't feed the greed system. Still, don't expect anything in return. I'm not saying I won't feel compelled to return the favor, just that it shouldn't be expected.
For those who don't respect me enough to follow my requests, please include the full reciept for any gifts you send. Whatever you buy me will be donated to someone who needs it more, returned to you if I can afford it, or returned to the store and the money donated.
I love you all and I hope everyone has a spectacular winter. Cherish your families, take care of those around you, and be good for goodness’ sake.