The gift of being born on Christmas Eve is you learn, early on, it’s not about you. The lights. The festivities. The gifts. They’re not about you.
As a child, it’s tough to take. As a grown up, it’s reassuring.
Growing up, I had a crazy aunt. At the time, I didn’t know she was crazy. She was an adult, so from the point of view of my little boy self, her behavior was odd if for no other reason than because she was an adult.
But she wasn’t odd. She was crazy. Now that I’m grown, I know this for sure. Every year, for my birthday, she gave me a gift which was a Birthday-Christmas Gift. It was the exact same gift she gave my brother, minus the hyphen.
It was soul crushing.
I used to think to myself: it’s my birthday AND Christmas, there aren’t 2-gifts, my gift isn’t bigger or better or bigger AND better, it’s not fair.
In fact, it’s more than fair. In fact, any gift at all is more than fair. In fact, any gift is incredibly generous. But to my little boy self, the gift reflected an injustice I was forced to endure at the time of year when I was supposed to be in the center, not to the left, of the spotlight.
I felt like a burden.
The truth is, I was a burden, all children are a financial burden. The truth is, I was unworthy of the spotlight, having done nothing other than being born, which is not an accomplishment, not on my part. The truth is, these feelings of unfairness in my childhood, each year on my birthday, cemented within my perception of the world a fire which burned into my consciousness an understanding I would have to do something more, something remarkable, something kind, something bigger than Jesus Christ, if I wanted to be noticed.
I hated my inconvenient birthday. I hated my mocaccino skin. I hated my un-blow-dryable curly hair. More than anything else, I hated my crazy aunt.
She was mean. I tried to love her, the way all kids try to love the adults they’re granted access to, but it was hopeless, she was hopeless. It was her birthright, hopelessness.
I remember on my birthday, one year, she came over with her mother, who had scribbled an I.O.U. on a paper plate as a birthday gift promising to take me to Nippersink, a resort town in Wisconsin. I hung the paper plate on my wall. She never took me. Eventually, disgusted, my own mother threw away the paper plate, uneventfully, which was exactly the fanfare it deserved.
Wish I’d kept the paper plate. Looking back, it was the most telling gift I’d ever been given. Not because my aunt was thoughtful. She was crazy, as I’ve already established. But even a crazy person can get something right if you separate the gesture from the intention.
She couldn’t be bothered, which in her own life would cost her dearly. Speaking of crazy people who can’t be bothered, Vladimir Putin is on an amnesty bender. If you separate the gesture from the intention, Vladimir Putin is a righteous man.
There will come a time when we hold to account Vladimir Putin. There will come a time when we hold to account Bashar al-Assad. There will come a time when we hold to account Omar al-Bashir. There will come a time when we hold to account Kim Jong-un. There will come a time when we hold to account The Bush Administration. There will come a time when we hold to account criminal bankers, corporate bonus addicts and Billy Ray Cyrus.
There’s an old joke by one of my favorite comedians, Bill Hicks. Standing on another crummy stage, in another crummy town, in another crummy comedy club, Bill Hicks bids the audience farewell, announcing he’s pitched a show to Hollywood which has finally been green lighted. Excited for the often overlooked comedian to finally get his moment in the spotlight, the audience erupts with applause. “Thank you,” Bill says, “The show is called Let’s Hunt Down And Kill Billy Ray Cyrus.”
I loved this joke. I hated Billy Ray Cyrus, with his Man Whore Ponytail and Achy Breaky Heart. It tore me up, the unfairness of Bill Hicks being relegated to the left of the spotlight and Billy Ray Cyrus being in the center of all things famous.
The truth is, Bill Hicks needed the friction of being an outsider to find his voice as sure as Billy Ray Cyrus needed to “plant his filthy cracker seed” so he could give birth to Miley.
As a culture, in 2013, we needed to see a 21-year old former Disney Starlet at the VMA’s foam finger-bang herself. We needed to see a girl, on the threshold of womanhood, on the threshold of self-awareness, overpaid, over exposed, over indulged, in over her head, stick out her tongue, shake her ass and call it an honest day’s work.
Twerking Is The Antidote To Burkas.
There’s a lie in the world on the brink of extinction. When a lie contaminates the world, it warps people on both sides of the lie. Yes, it’s harder to be the oppressed while the lie is enforced. But once the lie is exposed, it’s harder to be the oppressor since the hardest thing known to man is learning how to let go.
You’re not better if you’re white. You’re not better if you’re male. You’re not better if you’re straight. You’re not better if you’re a natural born athlete. You’re not better if you’re a natural born beauty. You’re not better if you’re born to a rich family, famous family, political family, royal family or despotic family. You’re not better if you believe in God. In fact, if you believe in God, you’re no better than my crazy aunt.
Speaking of crazy, I have a wish, a birthday wish. Here it is…
Let’s swoop down, the next time a tyrant unleashes hatred, and fly all of the refugees seeking asylum to a place in the world where the lie isn’t contagious, but the climate is the same.
Welcome them into communities. Integrate them into schools. Bake them cookies, preferably rugelach, apricot rugelach. It’s a delicious cookie.
Give them iPhones. Give them iPads. Give them facebook accounts. Give them seed money to start restaurants, accounting firms, dance studios, design firms, construction companies and petting zoos.
Give them hugs.
It’s crazy, my birthday wish is crazy, so I’m scribbling it on a paper plate, I’m hanging it on my wall. If you blend the gesture with the intention and sprinkle in a side of love sauce, you’ll see me, the man I’ve become, the man I’m still becoming, with a hint of my little boy self, just to the left of the spotlight, on the other side of Christmas Eve, dancing with the savior of the world, meaning you.
And you. And you. But not you.