The holidays come with lots of perks: time off, mom cooking for you like you’re 10 again, no guilt for sugar consumption (save that for January!). But, on the other hand, we also end up getting tons of stuff we don’t really need. Watches, shoes, the entire DVD box set of Game of Thrones (omg, yes!) can be great, but wouldn’t it be nice if Santa could wrap up your life purpose and leave it for you under the tree? While it’s nice to get presents and all, the gifts that are the most special are often quite simple. So read on, and adjust your “wish list” accordingly.
What you get:
1. Holiday-themed items (snow globes, candy canes, ornaments)
Usually given to you by your grandma who collects antique gnomes or your 2nd cousin’s wife who mispronounces your name but too much time has passed to correct her. The intention behind this offering is considerate. Grandma truly believes everyone aspires to populate their house with Thomas Kinkade collectibles and at least your distant relatives remembered you exist. The problem is these gifts are literally only useful for 24 hours a year. At least you can enjoy one more peppermint flavored thing before it’s taken away till next Christmas.
2. The ‘you mentioned you liked it once and now you get it for every holiday’ gift
Once, in a fleeting moment of conversation, you mentioned you kind of like elephants. Cue your aunt buying you a elephant stuffed animal for your birthday. Next year, it was elephant slippers, followed by an elephant necklace, which crescendoed into a hand-stitched elephant pillow from Etsy. Your friends noticed that you had a lot of elephant stuff and all began buying you elephant presents. Whew, that snowballed quickly! Your room now resembles a corner of a zoo gift shop, and you are officially an “elephant person.” Forever.
3. A star
Yes, the universe is amazing. Pitch black as if to playfully mock our complete and utter bafflement of it, it’s an enigma that eludes even the most crazy-haired of scientists. But its objects—borne from millions of years of elements fortuitously colliding together—CANNOT BE BOUGHT BY HUMANS. That mortals who spend a millisecond on a tiny planet can point to a celestial body and scream “MINE!” illustrates just how assholishly self-centered humans can be. That’s like saying “I own the Grand Canyon and wanna rename it ‘Bentley.’” Sorry, you don’t have that kind of jurisdiction over the shared COSMOS.
4. As-seen-on-TV products
Let’s not pretend you haven’t been lured by the succubus-like powers of an infomercial. It’s not your fault. They schedule them at humans’ most vulnerable hours, when we’re either intoxicated to the point of putting ice cream on mac ‘n cheese, or we’re sleepless and can’t find anything else to watch other than Russian news. But it’s one thing to order a hair-bun-creating device under the logic-weakening effects of 2:47 a.m., and another to consciously offer it to another person. These gifts are uselessly frivolous—unless we’re talking about a Snuggie. Which is man’s greatest feat of human ingenuity (sorry Wright brothers).
5. Bad advice
They didn’t even bother to re-gift a sweater that’s clearly not your size. Instead, they went the “sit-down-and-have-a-serious-discussion-about-your-life-fueled-by-alcoholic-eggnog” route. Your aunt can’t seem to get the hint, and keeps telling you to follow in your cousin’s footsteps, since “he makes such good money!” as a doctor. Meanwhile, you’re deathly afraid of needles, and have no intention of entering the medical field. Your family and friends have the best intentions, but sometimes their wishes for your future don’t align with your personal goals. Hang in there.
What you want:
A really cool experience that could change your life
Having more crap often just makes us feel weighted down—and can hold us in circumstances we aren’t happy with. Rather than material goods, we could really use experiences, which have the ability to enrich our lives. A backpacking trip through Europe. A road trip around the United States. A hiking trip along the Pacific Crest Trail. Experiences like these wake us up, and help us realize that life is full of potential. We’re not saying you should expect a plane ticket to Europe from your parents…but a backpack to use on your adventures would be an awesome start.