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.