As the Christmas season rolls around, I can’t help thinking that the most important things I will be receiving this year can’t be gift wrapped and put under the Christmas tree. They are gifts that I will be giving myself during this month between Christmas and my birthday, coming up in January.

In some ways, this year I am focused less on what I will “get” for Christmas and my birthday and more on what I will be leaving behind.

With that in mind, I thought that I would share my non-traditional Christmas list with you – a letter written and addressed, not to Santa, but to myself – a reminder of that in the month between Christmas and my birthday, the most important things I will receive will be the gift of things I will no longer need come January 20th, 2013.

With that in mind, I hereby declare that on my next birthday, I will not need:

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1. Apologies for being who I am…

…for speaking too loudly (and demanding to be heard), for asking for what I need, for making people uncomfortable. I will not need to apologize for my weight, my career choices, or my sex life. I will not need to apologize for my beliefs (or my unbeliefs). I will not need to apologize for who I love and how I choose to love them. And speaking of, on my next birthday, I will not need…

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2. To love people who don’t love me back.

I’ll be leaving that behind in 2012. I will not need to stay in a relationship based on it’s “potential.” I will have learned to be loving without falling in love. I will not confuse people with causes or battles that I need to fight. On my next birthday, I will not argue with people who say they don’t deserve me. I’ll assume they know what they’re talking about.

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3. I will not need… instructions on how to be a better woman/black person/fiance/feminist/insert any other relevant labels here.

On my next birthday, I will have realized that labels are just lazy ways of compartmentalizing an individual’s experience and this it is up to me to define and redefine my own humanity, relationships, womanhood, spirituality, and activism. On my next birthday I will have realized that I don’t care to be in a box built with stereotypes and fueled by prejudice and insecurity. On my next birthday, I will have set myself free.

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4. I will not need… A “job.”

Because by then I will have a career and a calling. On my next birthday, I will be leading a revolution.

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5. I will not need… Abs.

On my next birthday, I will not need abs. I will be too busy loving myself and my body just the way that God created it. I will be too entranced by the lushness of my breasts, the roundness of my stomach, the softness of my skin. On my next birthday, I will love how my jeans look and buy clothes without judging myself for the size on the tag. I will be neither too big or too small. I will be just right.

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6. I will not need… To try to understand tragedy.

I will be wise enough to not try to explain the unexplainable. Instead I will humbly open my mind and my heart, during those moments when I would much rather argue with God or blast my frustrations on Facebook, doling out my comfort and condemnation as I deem appropriate. On my next birthday, I will choose listening over talking, loving over arguing, hope over fear.

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7. I will not need… To live in the past or incessantly daydream of the future.

I’ll be too busy living, loving, writing, breathing, doing, and appreciating to worry about what’s been or what’s to come. On my next birthday, I will have learned to be present. And grateful. And graceful. And happy.

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Discussion:

Do you have a list of things you won’t need on your next birthday? What’s on it?


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