the most wonderful time of the year

I've been thinking a lot about Christmas lists. No, this isn't a post about how we shouldn't ask for presents because service to mankind and peace on Earth and blah blah.

This is legit a post about presents.

Growing up, my Christmas list was the reflection of all that I yearned to become.

Dear Santa,

Hi. How are you? 

I would like a leatherbound journal with a lock and key, and a chain to wear the key around my neck so that I can work on my writing in a safe place.

I would also like the same roller skates that my sister got last year because she does not ever share them with me and they are amazing. 

I would also like some Polly Pockets, a book about the Trail of Tears, and a vest.


(age 7)

Based on that wish list, I wanted to be:

1. A reclusive writer like JD Salinger.
2. My sister.
3. A normal little girl.
4. Sad about the Indians.
5. Wearing a vest.

True on all counts. I was a wierdo.

As Ryan and I polished and finished our family's wish lists this year, I realized how much has changed. If the Christmas Wish List is a symbol of your heart's dearest dreams, well...

Our boys' lists look pretty standard. For Chicken, in addition to the always-wonderful selections of popular children's books, we have:

 A toddler camera.

A scooter.
Based on his list, I'd say that Chicken wants to be:

1. A lover of books.
2. A keen-eyed, alert observer of the world.
3. A daredevil.

True, true, and true. Nailed it!

Buster is asking for a winter bunting in the next size up. He's also asking for:

An activity cubey thingy.

A fawn teether that squeals in delight and/or begs for her life as he gnaws on her head.

A giraffey blocky thingy.

So Buster, based on his Christmas list, yearns to blossom into:

1. A porker.
2. Keen fine motor skills.
3. A person with teeth and/or a sadist.
4. A great lover of giraffes.

True on all counts. We're killing this!

But then... we move into the parent Christmas lists.

Here's where shit gets... I don't know. Sad? Weird? You be the judge.

Mom is asking for:
A Ready America 4-Person Grab'N'Go Emergency Deluxe Backpack, complete with duct tape, emergency rations, goggles, and dust masks for a family of 4.

A solar-powered cell phone charger, hand-crank radio and NOAA certified weather alert plus cables. (Ya gotta have cables)

A cookie sheet.

Okay, so based on my Christmas list, my heart's dearest wish is to become a woman who is:

1. Preparing to flee my home with my children, running from certain and imminent disaster a la The Road or The Day After Tomorrow.
2. Hoping that the disaster ISN'T the sun exploding because this shit is solar powered.
3. Looking for the perfect snickerdoodle recipe. Not too crispy, not too cakey.

Dad's Christmas List

Chip clips.

Long underwear.

So Dad, in his heart of hearts, wants to emerge from his cocoon like a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly who hates stale chips and chilly hamstrings. 

When did our dreams get so scary and small? When did we stop longing to play, to pretend, to become SOMETHING if only in our imaginations, and start longing for cookie sheets and chip clips?

The truth is we don't long for those things anymore. What we long for can't be shipped via Prime with a $1 credit toward future ebook purchases. We long for a vacation in Maui. We long for careers that fulfill us. We long for a home of our own, for purpose, for security. That's as it should be - as adults and parents to two little humans, we need to have graduated to the abstract dreams of stability and contentment, or even happiness. 

But it is a little sad to know that when you open your presents on Christmas morning, your heart will be filled not with joy or love or the thrill of new adventures on roller skates, but rather with the quiet gratitude of having received something that will shortly live on a shelf, waiting for the moment you need it to be useful.

So Santa, if you're reading this post, I still need that emergency backpack. 

But if it's not too much trouble, could you bring me a little bit of that wierdo kid back? 

The 8-year-old who asked for a documentary on the Royal Shakespeare Company, and who dreamed of owning her own theater company? 

The 12-year-old who asked for a filing cabinet  so she could keep her poetry organized, and so she could one day include those pieces in her collected works, at her publisher's urging?

I'm thinking that Maui trip is a keeper. But, you know, whatever you think, Santa.


(age 30)


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