Wednesday, December 24, 2014

This Christmas, Don't Try to Change People with Presents

Anyone who knows me knows that, if there's one thing I take very seriously, it's Christmas presents. I've been considered the "good gift buyer" in the family for years, and I take pride when I can find a great present for even the toughest potential giftee. (I'm looking at you, Mom. ) There's something about finding that one thing that the person didn't know existed, but really speaks to them as a person, that fills me with a particular type of joy. The secret, of course, to any great gift is knowing the other person - listening to what they have to say. The nuggets that come out of their discussions about their personal lives are a roadmap to the perfect gift.

Thankfully, we geeks are easy these days. The last decade has seen the People Who Manufacture The Stuff finally notice us as a marketable entity, and there is a plethora of awesome merchandise for pretty much any flavor of geek in your life. But for a lot of people, this time of year is a time to hide who they truly are, not celebrate it.

This is the time of year where adult males don't ask for My Little Pony toys. Where young boys don't ask for dresses, and young girls for pant suits. There's an image that people are expected to keep up at Christmas, and a lot of people feel like they can't be themselves, for the fear of being judged by the gift givers. This, frankly, sucks. The whole idea of Christmas is one of acceptance and love - this time of year is designed for us all to tell each other how thankful we are to be in each other's lives. That's what presents are meant to represent. It's not a contest or an obligation, but a way to express your love for another human being who means something to you.

So this Christmas, I'm putting out a personal appeal to the families and friends out there who are buying gifts for someone considered a little "different" by the idiotic, mainstream society we're all supposed to follow. Don't buy your kid that sports jersey because they need to "toughen up." Don't buy that little girl who wants to be a scientist a barbie doll set. Listen. Listen to what they have to say, listen to the subtext they may be trying to hide from you. Don't use Christmas day as an attempt to mold someone into something they're not. Use it as a time to celebrate what they are.

People assume that the most selfish people are the ones who are excited about receiving presents. But sometimes, that selfishness comes from the people who are giving them. Learn to love your friends and family. Don't try and change them.

Mike Fatum is the Editor in Chief and Podcast Co-host of the Ace of Geeks. He knows when you've been sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He has no idea if you've been bad or good, that's kind of subjective, don't you think?

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