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Since yesterday evening, I haven’t had to work. I was officially on Christmas vacation, for four whole days this year. During the Labor Day holiday or Memorial Day or Thanksgiving, I generally take the opportunity of a day off to do nothing. I’m pretty good at it. I’m not on too high of a horse that I can’t watch hours upon hours of television during days off. I have, in fact, seen all the major holiday related Peanuts specials. So has the horse. I’ve read books, gone on pointless expeditions with my dog, played computer games, watched so much youtube that it temporarily got renamed paultube… Just lots of nothing of significance.

Christmas is a different type of holiday for me. It’s a time when I take stock of my year and the people with whom I interact throughout. I try particularly hard to be a better friend and a better person by every measure important to me. It’s a time when I consciously choose to do things for other people as much as, or more than, for myself. Sure, I get some satisfaction out of it, but it’s a pleasure from an external benefit rather than an internal one.

Take this morning. I chose to spend this morning and half of this afternoon working on collecting every address I could from the people who matter to me, but who aren’t easy to visit during the holiday. I was then able to finish up some more Christmas cards and gifts and then went to the Post Office and spent about forty-five minutes there sending out little tokens of appreciation to my friends. I was pretty happy to do it because I think there’s a chance that when those people get these things from me in the mail, it’ll bring a smile to their faces.

I wish happy birthday to my friends when the occasion arises. I try to show my appreciation and affection for them throughout the whole year. But I don’t know everybody’s birthday. I’m not always comfortable enough to tell people what they mean to me. Yes, that’s a part of me and maybe I’ll work to overcome that. On Christmas, though, most people don’t think it’s weird if I ask for their address or send them a card, so I’m able to be a bit more expressive. On this occasion at the end of the year, I try to make sure that I’m not just doing the easiest thing and sending emails or whatnot; I put effort into showing people that I like them, like by writing little notes in greeting cards and actually posting through the mail.

During these last few days up to and including Christmas, I still plan to take a couple of hours each day to try to write up some of my thoughts about the season. There’s no obligation for me to do it, and at this point, I think I might be as Christmasy as I could possibly be–but people have actually gone out of their way to say that they enjoy reading my articles. And I do enjoy writing them. So I choose to keep spending this time sharing my ideas about the holiday with my friends.

Tonight, I could go out dancing; I choose to perform more Christmas preparations instead. Even though dancing at Glen Echo would mean I could spend some time with a couple of my friends, I’d have less time to finish up the rest of the cards and gifts I still have to prepare for many more of my friends! I got a lotta merry to share.

Our lives are all about making choices all the time. Reasoning distinguishes us from the other animals on the planet. We don’t simply make choices to eat or eliminate or reproduce. At least, not after college. Okay, we are not compelled to make just those choices; we can make other choices, too. We define our own motivations and we can choose generosity and emotional enrichment. It’s usually my nature to choose whatever course will result in the best or most personal gain. But personal isn’t the same as important. Spreading Christmas cheer is important to me. Each day, I’m choosing Christmas over the momentary and fleeting fun I might normally opt for, and I hope that this decision has some lasting consequences, because those are important, too.

Thus, every day, I choose to wish you a Merry Christmas. I hope you’re choosing to have one!

About Paul Roth

A vegetarian, agnostic, lindy-hopping, dog-loving tv-watcher who likes to read his own words.
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