My list isn’t for naughty or nice, it’s more like a ranked friends list. This sounds familiar.
I’ve got my top tier of friends, the ones always visible on my list, and funds permitting, I’ll try to get them all gifts. That’s usually a pretty small collection of people, maybe just four or eight people. These are generally those people who have most affected my life in a positive way, within the last year. If at all possible, they’ll be on my Christmas Eve journey. Since my sleigh’s top speed isn’t that high, I probably won’t leave the tri-state area so that restricts the possibilities.
Then there’s the second tier of friends, still pretty visible in my life, just a little bit farther down on the list. These are either the people who affected me in a top tier fashion but longer ago than this year, or people who I think could be top tier folks in my life but I haven’t gotten to know them that well yet. If I’m particularly flush, I might get some of these friends gifts, too, but most of them will get greeting cards. Gift or card, I’ll still be trying to visit each of these people, too.
Then there’s the third tier section. These might be friends, these might be acquaintances, these might be business contacts. They are still people with whom I’ve had some sort of beneficial interactions through the past year. So long as I can afford it and so long as I’ve got the right addresses, I’ll get these people cards and probably just mail them out.
And finally, there’s the coal section. Sure, I still acknowledge this part of the list, but these people are not on my good side. That’s not to say that they are all bad or mean or anything like that. It just means that they’ve had no positive interaction with me that I can remember in the past year. I don’t really give them coal — I don’t give them anything at all. Take that!
It might seem a bit callous to classify people this way; I’m just being honest. I am always astonished when a gift giver decides to give a present or card to a person just because the gift giver gave presents or cards to others in the same environment. The “Share with the whole class” notion of giving out tokens of affection, appreciation, or gratitude puzzles me. If nothing else, giving a gift to someone who doesn’t mean much to you seems to devalue the gift you’ve given to a loved one.
That’s not to say that people should be striving to attain any level of friendship with me just so they can get a good gift or card. It’s just me, after all. I do say, though, that I recognize the value of the people who are close to me, and that I am very appreciative of their closeness. Just like I don’t believe that you should: love someone because they are family nor respect someone because they are your superior in business, nor give of yourself to appease some societally imposed feeling of guilt–I do believe that valuing a friend or loved one should be based on recognizing how those people have interacted with you in pursuit of a positive interconnected life rather than out of some compulsion to ‘be nice’ or some other foolishness. And so, in appreciation of that value, not because it’s nice or fair or the expected thing, I’ll be playing Santa Claus again this year.
If there is a moral to this blog, it would be this: if you’re going to send cards or gifts to people, make sure you are being sincere with that gesture of appreciation. In other words, don’t give gifts to those who deserve coal.
Speaking of lists, I am again appreciative of myspace and facebook for giving me a way to socially interact with people I’ve met from around the world. Coincidentally, it also gives me a couple of online lists of friends. I think Santa would have a much easier time of things if he were online. If nothing else, the online networks give me a way to collect current addresses for the Christmas Eve deliveries and also a way to make sure I don’t miss anyone.
After I post this blog, I’ll also be sending out messages or posting a bulletin to ask where everyone will be on Christmas Day. I definitely won’t get to everybody, but this is where I give you fair warning: if you’re on my friends list, you might just get a surprise visit from Santa after dark on Dec. 24th. Ho, ho, ho!