Wouldn’t you love to rename Black Friday to “The No-Shopping-Day-Before-Snooze-Saturday?” Or better yet, change the “Twelve Days of Christmas” to my “Twelve Words at Christmas: Please don’t buy me anything and I won’t buy you anything either.” Relief. It’s not about being a Grinch. It’s about spending time, so precious and rare, with more meaning.

I crave new memories with those I love, not another mug. Yet it’s hard to throw off the weight of gift yokes. “Christmas isn’t complete without ribbons and wrapping!” Or “Buying presents is our tradition.” Or “What if someone gives me a gift? I don’t want to look cheap.”

My heart wears a frownie when I used to circle the parking lot on the cattle drive to Santa-Land to load up on more stuff. This is why I sing my Twelve Words at Christmas: Please don’t buy me anything and I won’t buy you anything either.

Instead of doing time at a mall, or being tethered to a computer for online shopping, how about considering replacement value:
— An invitation to a few friends for sandwiches and tea at home.
— A luxurious face-to-face chat.
— A catch up phone call where neither one says, “I only have five minutes to talk.”
— Take a walk together.
— See a movie.
— Volunteering together at a new place.

It’s impossible when time falls under the high-powered suction of standing at a cashier’s line.

If you must, regift the candle, but perhaps what Uncle Joe truly needs is the warm glow of company and attention. It’s odd that intangibles mean the most: A visit, a knowing smile, a good belly laugh, all wrapped within a blanket of one-on-one time together.

Hear the squeal, “What? For me?!”

“Yes, I’m all yours, now let’s eat cake and dish!”

The holiday season is just a twinkle around the corner. “Merry Christmas!” conveys love, healing, grace and comfort. Don’t make it a political statement. Say it to remind yourself that divine connection makes genuine connection with others possible; no small thing during these divisive times. Bestow kind words freely, and make your precious parcels of time count.

Do I still buy gifts? Sure I do, but my list is very short because I sing The Twelve Words of Christmas. Free time to have fun is priceless. For some odd reason, we all need permission.

Repeat after me, “Please don’t buy me anything and I won’t buy you anything either.” Watch eyes go big with gratitude.

“Thank you! That’s just what I always wanted!”

“Me, too.”

Oh, great tidings of comfort and joy.
— Email Suzette Standring: suzmar@comcast.net or visit www.readsuzette.com. The award-winning author writes for The Patriot Ledger and is syndicated through GateHouse Media.