Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dear Santa,

As soon as Labor Day happened, I saw the Christmas decorations and promotions start at retailers. I don't mean to sound like Scrooge or like a holier-than-thou hypocrite preaching that we've lost the true meaning of the holidays, but I hate seeing Christmas decorations before Halloween.

Reading the newspaper today, I skimmed through all of the bad news about the war, the environment and the United States' economic forecast. I also flipped through the glossy sale ads for stores. I started thinking about what I want to send for Christmas gifts this year to close family and the very few friends with whom I exchange Christmas gifts. I admit that I even thought of a few things I want to receive for Christmas gifts.

Each year during the winter holiday season, I'm tempted to tell people to make charitable donations instead of sending me gifts. I'm also tempted to make charitable gifts in honor of friends rather than buying more lip gloss samplers or gloves to hand out. I don't want to seem like a curmudgeon though. And who am I to decide that you want a charitable gift made in your name to a cause that I like? Likewise, who am I to decide that the charity you like is not one I'm willing to support? Well, as I told my nephew last week, "I'm thirty-five. I'm going to do what I want to now. When you're thirty-five, you can do what you want to do." (Implicit disclaimer: Within reason, don't break any laws or do horribly unethical things like those Enron jerks did.)

I encourage you to donate to the charitable cause of your choosing this year. I've always liked Unicef. Your local food bank is probably a good charity to support. Your local Red Cross and the national Red Cross do a lot of good work too.

I hope that the recipients on my gift list this year like the Unicef donations I'll make in their honor. (Niece and nephews, don't worry, you'll get "real" presents too.)

In the interest of full-disclosure, all charitable bets are off when birthdays roll around. Friends and family will get the usual birthday cards and gifts without the preachy message. It's my opinion that your birthday should be that one delightfully self-aggrandizing/semi-selfish day each year that's all about you.