And What Do You Want For Christmas Little Girl?

December 12, 2008 by Ellen Stimson in Christmas time, Living With Intention

Lists are being revised around here. Yes yes it’s December 10th and most of the world has finished or at least reached the halfway mark of their Christmas shopping. At least it seems that way to those of us who have to wait for the spirit, (or the December commission check) to move them.

I don’t feel like buying Christmas presents in August. And October is for caramel apples and hay rides. November is all about Thanksgiving. And the day after is about turkey salad and long woodsy walks with the dogs. It is still Thanksgiving on Black Friday. Perhaps a trip to the bookstore to lay in something new to read for the rest of the weekend while you are still eating left over pie, but otherwise it is still Thanksgiving, and so Christmas shopping just doesn’t seem right.

We are trying to live, I mean really live these seasons up here. So until the Christmas carols have been playing for a few days, and there are cookies beginning to get stuck into tins and piling up on counters, shopping seems precipitous. Thus we have trained our children that they can wish and then wish again, revisiting their lists of hopes and dreams at least until the middle of December. The exceptions have been those years where there was a dearly beloved wish that would be scarce…the Wii comes to mind from one year…(we camped out with hot cocoa and sleeping blankets on a concrete sidewalk with college boys and I felt like I should win all the Mom awards) So those years we race like everyone else. But with those few exceptions everyone is just settling in to their wish lists. And the revisions are in full swing.

There is something about being asked, what do you want, that generates indecision. What do you want? The implication of course is what would make you happy? Now if you are a little kid, it is both simpler and harder all at once. It is simpler because little kids are all about the present. They think about what would make them happy right then at that moment. So their answers are spontaneous and genuine. It is harder because the present changes right up until December 25th, so absent some big keen wish, a puppy say , or a new bike, that Barbie house with a really pink corvette in the drive, absent these definitives, the wishes evolve and change constantly.

And if you are a happy adult the question is also hard. Because well, you are already happy, and the car is going to need a new heating system pretty soon, or the roof really needs fixing, and so to be frivolous when nothing is really at stake seems a little silly.

Of course it is completely impossible when you are sad. Because we get sad about the big stuff, lost love, missed opportunity, mean mothers, or meaningless work. So a shiny new pair of earrings or even the perfect new handbag won’t fix what’s really wrong and why bother.

There are those who just really want to have a good wish. After all we will all be around the house for days, kids home, parents off work. How would you like to spend that time? Are there books you want to read? Put those right on the list. Or do you imagine cooking big elaborate meals and you really want a fancy new mixer to do it with? For those folks what do you want is more about what do you want for this little piece of time, this season? These people might actually be able to be pleased.

There also the people who want the perfect surprise. They want the folks who love them to know them so deeply that they find the perfect surprise gift that perfectly illustrated their keen understanding of you and of their love. This one is the real trap. Sometimes the right gift will appear as if by magic, but mostly this kind of gift giving is hard work, careful thought, and the right combination of taste, money, luck, and time. The bad gift, or the one that is slightly off, makes at least offering little hints if not an actual list, a surer route. It pays to advertise goes the thinking.



  • Kate

    I have no clue what I want this year. Presents or otherwise. I have no expectations and no plans. At the same time that comforts and terrifies me.

  • Jamie

    There is one paragraph in this post that spoke to me nearly immediately. I’m sure you can figure out which one that was!

    However, I should follow that up with saying the one thing that makes me happy no matter what: new nail polish.

  • Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge

    great post, again! And, I hate it when people want me to know them so intrinsically that they get ME the perfect gift. I would prefer they get me something THEY think I would like, or even something they like. It shows me how much they love me, to share themselves with me. (Kinda like the 5 love languages thing – if you’ve read that book, you’ll know what I mean).

  • laurwilk

    Fortunately, I fall into the happy adult category this year. And well, I guess I may actually qualify as an adult for one of the first Christmases in my life.

    This year, I certainly asked for things, but there is nothing I really need or really want or would be disappointed not to have. I’m happy. But I did get a GREAT surprise gift that I am just DYING to give away.

    One year, sister #4 talked for months about wanting a dagu (a little chinchilla like creature). On December 23, my Dad went and got two of them for her. She went over to a friend’s house to play that afernoon and her friend’s dagu bit her. Sister #4 decided she most certainly did not, could not have, would never want a dagu. My dad went to the pet store to return the dagus and get a little puppy instead. Except, in all of the hoopla, one of the dagus escaped the cage and was lost somewhere in the house. On Christmas morning, sister #3 and I found the dagu…inside of the piano.

    So, sister #4 got a little puppy and brother #3 lucked out and got one dagu. (It also kept his big sister out of his room for months!) Dad has now made a rule that whatever you write in your Christmas letter is what Santa will get you. Santa is not a mind reader!

  • starrlife

    I hate being asked! It’s not rational to feel that way but I do! Because,even if it’s something silly it is about from the person- I can get myself whatever I want. Of course everyone knows that I’m always happy if it has to do with books!

  • Casdok

    I much prefer buying than recieving. But am easily pleased as its the thought that counts!

  • Nellie

    I hate this question. How can one be grown up and still not be able to easily identify what it is that will make you happy, even for a day?
    But I can’t. Sometimes I am happily surprised. Usually I am content. but boy I surely hate being asked…

  • katiedid

    I want a kittie. But then I always want a kittie. This year I might get one

  • library lady

    I am driving my mother crazy because I really can’t think of anything I want. My mother, brother and I are driving my Holy Cousin Gail crazy because the only gift on our lists is a donation to the Salvation Army and she doesn’t consider that a gift worthy of our family exchange. But the truth is, I truly can’t think of anything I want or need that I don’t already have–although when I get a gift, I love it. What I don’t like is trying to decide!

  • TheCynicalOptimist

    My husband just completely ignored my 30th birthday and so I went out and boughy myself the diamond band I have been wanting for years. THAT’S what I want buddy!! 🙂

    Another great post E!

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