The reason for the season

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief  Ω

When I was young, I’d wake up early Christmas morning (I’d likely barely slept anyway) and hurry downstairs, giddy with anticipation of what I’d be getting.

We’d all tear the wrapping off whatever was under the tree (and had our name on the tag, obviously), thank those present for what they’d given — even if we were disappointed — and I’d hurry to the phone to share with my friends what I’d gotten, and find out if they had a similar morning, either being jealous of their haul or surely making them jealous with reports of mine.

Fast-forward to present-day.

Assuming I get to go home (not sure why I still call wherever my parents live “home,” but that’s an examination for a future column, I think), I wake up when they force me to, likely because “everyone’s waiting and getting hungry,” I mosey — or maybe slump — my way down the stairs, dutifully take my seat on the floor, and stoically pass out gifts.

We pass one to each of the people assembled, open them one at a time, and show everyone what’s been given. It’s not that I’m not as happy with the celebration — I am — it’s that I look at it differently.
There was a lot of “what did you get?” when I was a kid, and the excitement was in the receiving. Now I look forward to buying gifts for my friends and family, so that I can get them something that expresses my thanks for having them in my life in whatever capacity that happens to be. I don’t see the need to wake up ridiculously early on one specific day of the year to do that, hence the morning prompting I mentioned.

When I was younger, I would fall into the trap of rushing around on Dec. 23 or even Christmas Eve — as some of you still do, I’m sure — but I think that was because I hadn’t yet realized the joy that comes with giving. Now I enjoy spending the time searching for the perfect gift for someone, assuming the stores aren’t too full, and I have the time to spare to conduct the search thoroughly.

I’m almost done my holiday shopping already this year — and it’s not even December yet.

So what to do while I’m waiting for the opportunity to give these gifts that are waiting in the closet for their colourful wrapping?

Other than getting some much-needed and well-earned sleep (after I finish exams and final assignments, of course), I’m going to spend some time giving to those I can’t purchase a gift for, because I’ve never met them and wouldn’t know what they want.

Whether that’s in the form of charity donations to organizations I agree with, or devoting some time at the food bank stocking shelves. Giving has taken over getting as my raison d’etre for the season.

I’ll probably donate some time making music for people somewhere, too — though it won’t be in the form of caroling.

Maybe it’s still for selfish reasons that giving feels so good. Some would argue that there’s no such thing as altruism. Some feel that giving isn’t an unselfish act because you’re doing it to make yourself feel good, there’s actually less virtue in it than people acknowledge.

Well, to those I say this: I’ll take giving over getting as the source of my selfish happiness any day. If someone else’s smile of appreciation makes me feel good, too…so be it.