“I just lost my mind standing on line at the mall! And I don’t know what to get Dad, oh, and this year all of a sudden there’s a whole bunch of little kids on my list I have to be giving presents to…” wailed Daughter #1. Somehow, this didn’t sound like holiday cheer to me. Unless you are a retailer, this is not the most wonderful time of the year for most gift shoppers I know.
“I know, why don’t you just go hundreds of dollars that you don’t have to get things that insure you won’t be worried people think you are clueless and cheap. Makes as much sense as eggnog. Who drinks that stuff?” I said. She didn’t appreciate that but she didn’t fight me on it either.
What is the best gift you can give someone, really? Big clue, it is not made up of packaged molecules that takes up space in your house or makes a big hole in your wallet.
We are a country with a $38 billion self storage system which is totally insane when you think about it. We actually own more things than we can stuff in our closets so… instead of not having so much stuff, we’ll cheerfully fork over money to store everything in an outside closet in some building in Brooklyn where all we have to do is get in the car, drive over, look for parking and put more stuff in our unit. To declutter our home and make room for more incoming stuff.
And we do this like it’s normal.
Well, dear friends, it is not normal. If you don’t have room for something in your life, you don’t need it. Unless you are willing to make room for it by getting rid of something else you really, really don’t need. And don’t think you will make this better by giving that person with the overflowing storage unit even more molecules.
I also feel this way about the exchange of imagination and wonder which for me and many other people who become children at this time of year, becomes the entire reason to celebrate a season of lights.
I want magic.
I want something that makes me feel like there will be something for me that takes my breath away, that is instant happiness, that could be for no one else but me.
And I got exactly what will do all of that, and more.
What is that?
I stopped my 3 kids who had their fingers poised over the submit button on their phones, ready to dump a couple of bucks from their Venmo accounts into my Amazon account and call their holiday shopping for their mom – DONE!
Didn’t I bring you guys up better than that? That is not anything I consider close to a thoughtful gift.
“I know exactly what I want and it will not cost you a penny,” I said.
“Absolutely. But it will cost you in time, imagination and spending some time with each other.”
“What I want for Christmas is a 3 minute video of you 3 singing an original cover that you will write together, of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ with the gifts only I would like in the lyrics,” I said. “To have that would mean the world to me.”
My son smiled. “I think that is a great idea!” he said. “And we can play it on Christmas – and watch it next year too.”
My turn to smile. Yes, I did bring them up better than I thought.
Get off that ridiculous line at the mall with the rest of the world and give someone you love something of yourself. Something that you can share together. Something that will mean something.