Happy Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/Hogmanay/Eid-al-Adha/Pancha Ganapati/Winter Solstice (Choose One):

Let us speak frankly, shall we? There are a number of gifts that, as a writer, I would not like to receive this holiday season; gifts that I would be certain to return. They are gifts of monumental cost, yet they are not to be found in any store. They are not givable to me by anybody but me. Thank the stars.

The list, here…

Suffering/Anguish. I already have far too much of both. I don’t need any more at the moment. Thank you.

Self-criticism. This is the bad holiday carol that gets sung over and over. It’s the same old song. Heard enough of it. Move on.

Neediness. It comes in only one size: Too Big. It doesn’t fit me comfortably. It never will.

Envy. Green is just not my color. Sorry.

Indecision. Still unspooling this massive gift from last year. There’s no end to it.

The Pity-party. Been there. Didn’t enjoy myself. If I am in bad company in this party-of-me, I’d like to sit this one out this year.

Defeatism. The Trojan Horse of the writer’s holiday. It always comes gift-wrapped, looking like something else. Unwrapped, it stinks like a dead fish. I won’t be home for the delivery. Apologies.

Ego. The temptation to a second helping is almost irresistible. But on the holidays, as all year long, excess-in-moderation is the Tao for me.

To all of you who have the same excess baggage to haul through the airport this holiday season, these are my wishes for you: I wish you contentments—even temporary ones. I wish you joy in small moments. I wish you satisfaction from all your hard work. I wish you success…in whatever way you define it. I send you cheer and blessings, and easy going on the impossible path you’ve set yourself to walk.

And most of all, I wish you the gift of ready words: The one I know you’ll never take back to the store.

[And a special shout-out to my friend Rob—a Santa of the soul, all year long—for letting me use his photo.]