It was my brother’s birthday yesterday. He’s a quarter of a century old now, which is a great geek age. You’re old enough to feel secure in your fandoms, but young enough to still be open to new ones. This isn’t a rule, merely an observation. At my age, I feel like I have no more time for new obsessions (except Orphan Black), but my brother dives in. He even took up Dungeons and Dragons for the first time and that’s not a forgiving hobby.
As you can imagine, gifts get pretty geeky at our house, but this year I took it up a notch and made the wrapping paper match the insides.
I tried to make something witty, gender neutral and ageless. Oh and something that wouldn’t look crappy all wrapped up. This paper is astoundingly easy to use.
1. Click here to download the file.
2. Print it on a color printer.
3. If you have a larger package, print on a larger sheet of paper, if possible.
4. Wrap as you would. And keep reading for my thoughts on the best gift of all. (Hint: you can’t even wrap it.)
Before you click away and spend time pinning and tweeting and streaming, I want to talk about the importance of birthdays.
In a world where wishing someone a happy birthday has been almost entirely absorbed by logging into Facebook, it’s important to tell people we love them in real and meaningful ways. It doesn’t take much to realize that on the scale of emotional connection, a Facebook Happy Birthday is right down there with holiday cards from your insurance agent with swirly like fonts to give the impression of hand writing. It’s all a facade.
I’ve written extensively about my obsession with time (most notably here and here), but it’s celebrations like birthdays when I realize time is a commodity. As valuable as money and property. People are just as unwilling to give their time to their closest friends as they are a dollar to the homeless man they see on their commute each day. So before you say no to the friend who asks you to dinner or the sibling who needs help with his car - think about what’s actually being given. You are giving them your time.
I’m just as bad as anyone about acknowledging when people give me the gift of their time. So it’s also important to thank those you care about for sharing their time with you.
I’m trying to get better about getting older. For me, seeing my sibling get older presents a more stark picture of getting older myself, but these are the lessons time gives you. It’s really the greatest gift of all.