25 / DEC / 2023

Merry Christmas, everyone!

On some level, life is all about give and take. I think everyone understands that, or at least feels it on a subconscious level. With it being the time of gift-giving and all, I figure you already have a read on the theme for this year's letter.

This year, I've been really forced to come to terms with how little I've given in relation to what I've taken. As an example, I think about a friend I had for the past year and the things he did for me. Beyond even that, I think about the friends that came and went before him. Throughout my life, I've never been able to handle positive attention from someone else. I'd always return the favor with hostility, ingratitude, or blatant apathy. I don't like having to admit that much, but it's true. I'm sorry if this letter seems too personal to my own experience; really I'm trying to use my own life as a model for others to benefit from. A "learn from the mistakes of others" sort of attitude.

Last year, I wrote about change and how it all comes to you naturally. But now, I'm not so sure. At some point you have to come to terms with effort being a necessity. It takes effort to achieve things, it takes effort to change, and it takes effort to give back to the world that offered so much to you. It's all a game of give and take, just as the annual exchange of presents is. You give to someone, and you take from someone. If one part of the equation is missing, then someone is showing a sort of disrespect to the other, willingly or not.

After a while, you start to realize that there are people you're indebted to, or who are indebted to you. If you're lucky, the realization will only come to you after the fact; once they've already been gone from your life for a while and then you realize how much they gave you. But if you're not as lucky, the reckoning will come at the cost of someone you currently know.

Back to my anecdote, that's what ended up happening to me towards the end of the year. I'd taken too much from that friend and didn't return the respect and patience he'd given me. The worst part is that it didn't bother me at first when he cut me out of his life. It took a month or so for it to sink in and for me to realize what I'd lost and how much I failed to give back to him. And of course, I questioned what I failed to give back to other people.

It's nice to think that Christmas is the day where we can finally give back and make things right that way, but the truth isn't that convenient. Christmas is more of a reminder. A reminder of the fact that you ought to give as much as you take. And as much of a shame as that is, reminders are necessary if we want to keep making good memories for ourselves and others. Recognize what you've been given and try to figure out what you could return.

Start today. If there's someone you feel you haven't given enough to, then ye old Christmas Spirit might be a good motivator in making up for lost time. I have other friends who have been generous to me, and to return the favor I've been planning some Christmas surprises for them.

The best is yet to come,