There’s no paper & ribbon for this gift

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” croons Frank Sinatra, possibly, over the cafe’s sound system.

I’ve no idea what Christmas, a mere week away, will look like this year!

I may be at the radio station working that afternoon if it’s needed — and I’m happy to do so.

If not, I may be lending a volunteering hand at the big free community meal at a church. Like 500+-people big! I don’t attend that or any church. I’m spiritual and not at all religious. I very much like the idea of serving others Christmas Day.

Or I may go as a guest to mingle with the community.

Or I may go to a movie.

Or visit a favorite saloon on Whiskey Row.

Or spend time on the road with my Subbie, weather permitting.

Or stay home and paint or play with clay or write and drink mulled wine, a seasonal favorite, and listen to Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas on Pandora.

Whatever I end up doing, it won’t involve family; whether buddies will be involved remains to be seen.

I’m not worried. I’ve survived much worse Christmases. Christmases alone with no friend or casual acquaintance or connection in sight. In geographical places that were very dark, lonely and depressing (the Pacific Northwest categorically the worst, of course).

Have also spent plenty of Christmases at jobs I detest or loathe or at the very least want out of, please God, get me outta here!

It’s because I’ve survived so many rotten and unconventional Christmases over some 20 years that I’ve cultivated more than a thick survivor’s skin.

I’ve developed gratitude.

Gratitude for being where I am today. In a state (Arizona) and town that I love and that resonates, mutually.

Even if I’m with complete strangers — as I may well be this Christmas — I like this community. It’s quirky yet solid and highly conservative with a sub-population of oddballs, artists, creative sorts and mainstream misfits.

Don’t misunderstand. It ain’t Berkeley or San Francisco or New York or even Austin — all places overtaken (hence ruined) by the libs/socialists. Not. At. All. It’s conservative but quirky, my town — in a nutshell.

Moving along …

It’s BECAUSE I’ve been in such dark places many times and years over that I sit here with such gratitude for where I am today. And with zero concern or worry about what I may or may not do on the so-called biggest holiday in America.

Reckon some folks might trade places with me for a day. Because the sad truth about Christmas in America is: It lost its meaning long ago.

For most, it’s all about presents — gross commercialism — and rushing around and beaucoup stress and even more credit-card debt and time with relatives they don’t want to see, obligations they wish they didn’t have to fulfill, controlled chaos and … did I miss anything?

Oh, and screaming whining crying ungrateful brats. I don’t mean exclusively the tots.

I don’t see it happening but on Christmas, I could sit in my new-ish (4 months) lovely space staring out the window and be centered and calm in gratitude. For all that I have and how much better my life has become — and continues to become.

The simplest things are the most meaningful, to me.

I’ll probably have one gift to open, perhaps a few cards. It’ll be a gift and cards from people who mean a lot to me, individuals I truly care about and love.

I’d trade that for, say, a slew of sweaters I don’t need or wouldn’t wear from people who feel obligated to give me gifts any day.

But that’s just me, un-American freak that I am; freak because I’ve no interest whatsoever in the BuyBuyBuy SpendSpendSpend version of the American Christmas. So sad.

Whether I be at work (gratefully at a job I love) or a community feast, a saloon or at home alone singing along to Mannheim Steamroller — only after several glasses of mulled wine! — this is sure:

I shall be in my heart in gratitude.

And that is a gift, of and to the self, that could never be put on a credit card or wrapped with paper.

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