Even before I saw the movie In Time, I was leaning in this direction: I don't want any gifts, per se, for Christmas. I have too much stuff. There are things I could stand to have replaced, but none of them are in the appropriate price range for Christmas presents. Everything that any of my friends could afford to give me for Christmas would be one more thing that duplicates something I already have, or that I didn't want in the first place, that I would have to find a place to store and then take care of. With all due respect, and I say this as someone who's fallen back on this lazy shortcut before and felt guilty about it, I've never been crazy about the gift certificate thing. And as someone on a diet, I can't even fall back on my old traditional wish-list item, consumables.
But I do like opening presents on Christmas. It's been a major disappointment for me, the last couple of years, that there wasn't anything under the tree. As irrational as this sounds coming from a 51-year-old guy, waking up Christmas morning and finding nothing under the tree makes me feel like a bad kid that Santa hates, makes me feel like none of my friends loved me enough to get me anything for Christmas.
Here's how I'm reconciling that this year: what I specifically want for Christmas, from anybody who feels any obligation to give me a gift, is a Christmas card (or any other Winter Holiday card) with a note in it telling me what charity you donated to in my name in the month of December. What I want for Christmas is at least a tiny down payment on a Christmas miracle. Because let's face it, what I want for Christmas, what I really want, you and I both know I'm not going to get: I want America, the country I'm stuck living in, to be a better place.
I want military demobilization and an end to American imperialism. I want an end to dependence on oil and coal. I want an end to the Forbes 400 list's absolute veto over all political candidates. I want an end to the militarized, rights-less police state that the Forbes 400 have insisted on, to defend their veto and to defend the privileges that the politicians they hand-picked for us gave them, and to defend them from occasional bouts of outrage over all of the above. I want an end to permanent high unemployment. I want an end to spousal murder/suicide and infanticide fueled by permanent high unemployment. I want a universal public-funded employer of last resort to replace extended unemployment benefits and SSDI, whether we get to call it the reborn WPA or whether we call it Workfare, I just want it. I want an end to Reaganomics. I want safe, legal, affordable and destigmatized reproductive rights and sexual health in every city and county in the United States, including safe, legal, affordable, and destigmatized abortion. I want either a national health service or universal single-payer health care for all Americans. I want an end to racial profiling in searches, I want an end to the country's centuries-long war on black men, I want an end to black men committing crimes at the same rate as the rest of us but being incarcerated at 7 times the rate. And, not incidentally, I want an end to the for-profit prison-industrial state. I want equal protection under the law; if it's illegal for a poor or powerless person to do it, it should be illegal for a rich or powerful person to do it. And vice versa.
I'm not going to get any of those things for Christmas this year. But if you were going to buy me a $1 or a $5 or a $25 present, you can buy me $1 or $5 or $25 worth of it. Pick a charity that's working towards any of those things. Send in a donation, whether in your name or in my name I don't care, but I don't want any of their "thanks for donating" gifts, either.
Christmas is a time to show that you care enough about someone to put some thought into finding or making something that they'd like. But if you don't have time to pick a charity, or don't have the energy, I understand that. So here's an easy fall-back. As a step towards getting me some or all of those things, I also want well-funded independent hard-hitting investigative journalism back, and if the 21st century has taught us anything, it's that we're not going to get that out of any shareholder-owned publicly-traded for-profit company, no matter how noble they claim to be. If you absolutely cannot make up your mind as to what charity would best promote any of the causes I listed above, I would admire and be thankful for any donations you made to ProPublica, or National Public Radio, or the Greg Palast Investigative Fund, or WikiLeaks, or GlobalRevolution.tv, or, if your town has a non-profit investigative journalism fund, like the St. Louis Beacon, donate to that. Or, maybe, I guess, PBS.
Tuck a note into a card that says, "Brad, because you asked, I donated to (whatever)." Mark the envelope "Do Not Open Until Christmas." And either give it to me in person, or send it to J. Brad Hicks, 8708 Crocus Ln Apt 6, St Louis MO 63114, USA. That's what I want for Christmas.