The gift of the magi (or something)

A friend of mine calls me today. They ask, “Have you read any Jules Vernes?”

It’s not a question I get asked every day. I pause a moment then answer, “I’ve read his most popular works: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Mysterious Island, From the Earth to the Moon, Journey to the Center of the Earth. Why?”

They respond, “How about the Morte d’Arthur? There’s a new English translation.”

Suddenly it clicks. “You’re talking about getting me a Christmas present, aren’t you?”

I don’t want a Christmas present. My reasons:

– I don’t expect to get any presents. I don’t need any presents. I have enough stuff.

– I don’t get other people holiday presents, except for the grab-bag at Yule rituals. Even then, after I put a gift in the grab bag I don’t take one out. It becomes a special surprise for someone at Yule who forgot to bring their own grab-bag gift.

– Instead of giving other people birthday presents, if I know the address I send them birthday cards. None of this Facebook/Twitter/e-mail nonsense. I buy an actual card with a clever phrase from some underpaid writer, put it in an envelope, put on an Acorn Garden stamp, and take it to a mailbox.

– The money I might otherwise spend on presents goes to charity, not just during the holiday season, but year-round. For the most part, the charity money goes to Kiva.

I try to explain this to them. They don’t really listen. “You’re getting a present. What do you want?”

I struggle to come up with something. Then I remember that I gave a gift earlier that day: “How about you make a donation to your favorite charity in my name?”

“C’mon Bill. If you don’t pick something, it will be Jules Verne or Morte d’Arthur.”

“You do understand that I haven’t gotten you anything?”

“Oh. Uh. Well, you’re getting a present anyway. What is it?”

Later on, I realize I should have tossed some business to my friends, and asked for a gift certificate for a massage or hair styling. But I am flummoxed, and pick something from my Amazon Wish List: “How about Settlers of Catan?”

“Fine. And if they don’t have that at Barnes and Noble, you’re getting Jules Verne.”

I make some more remarks about how this is not necessary. I reference The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. I am ignored.

After I got off the phone with them, a wave of Judeo-Christian guilt washes over me. My Wiccan training is helpless against it. I order something from their Amazon Wish List, with expedited delivery to make sure it gets here before Christmas.

I think I need to watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and the Charlie Brown Christmas Special to remind myself that this holiday is not about the friggin’ presents.

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  1. shades_of_nyx

    It is not about the presents, at all. Yet, I received a material gift last night that made me cry. My Handmaiden, of my little tiny grove, hand quilted a case for my glasses, that fits on my ritual cord next to my blade. You see when I do Invocation work, the Gods tend to take off my glasses and leave them somewhere, anywhere, and we spend 1/2 an hour struggling to find them after Circle. This gift was perfect, and attentive, and hand made, and completely unexpected. Share in some of my big huge feeling of love for my family, please!

    1. wgseligman

      That’s a marvelous gift, given for a marvelous reason. It’s a recognition of your needs and your spirituality.

      I claim that’s different from “Jules Verne or Morte d’Arthur.” That’s more like giving a present for the sake of giving a present.

      Thanks for sharing the love! I appreciate it.

  2. sabrinamari

    Practice receiving gracefully, dude.

    This is an OPPORTUNITY!

  3. Anonymous

    Good job.

  4. Anonymous

    Both Ian Corrigan and Oberon Zell-Ravenheart have just sent me long Microsoft Word documents with wonderful information about Neopagan history. I’m feeling quite good right now.

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