My daughter Jasmine called me a few months ago with the obligatory post-Halloween inquiry: “Daddy, what do you want for Christmas?”
Funny, my answer came rather quickly and was one that came with very little thought.
I asked her to give me something that could not be gift-wrapped or sealed with a bright red ribbon. I asked her to think about the little things I like — a photo of her with my grandson or a poem that she had written about our lives and our love for one another.
You see, while doing some very late spring-cleaning in the midst of enjoying a ton of college football games during Thanksgiving, I realized that I already have more than I could ever need or want. Sure, we can always dream about taking a cruise around the world or going on an African safari. We could even decide to stroll down the boulevard in Paris or London. But I want something from the heart. Nothing more — nothing less.
I have grown weary of getting into debt each holiday season. And I don’t want to open packages with things that I really do not want or need. I just want to remember how good God has been to me — and to those whom I love. I want to look at photo albums and recall the times when my dad was alive and well. I want to go down memory lane and recall the times when I was just a little boy, longing for the okay from my parents to rush downstairs and rip open my gifts.
I want to celebrate one more day of life. And I want to show others that even when I make mistakes or say something that I should not have said, or raise my voice needlessly, or forget to say thank you after someone has done a good deed or shared a message of praise, that I really do appreciate them and our connection, or relationship, our mutual feelings of joy and love and peace and hope and thanks.
What really is the reason for the season? It’s not about out-shopping one another. It’s not about seeing who can come up with the biggest, grandest, most elaborate gift. It’s about sharing gifts that cannot be purchased online or at Macy’s, Best Buy or an exclusive boutique in Georgetown.
So, my list this year is simple. I just want something that cannot be gift-wrapped. And that’s what I plan to give to those who matter most in my life as well.
What about you?
Here’s what I know. My mother is almost 91 and she’s still hanging in there, even though sometimes she makes me want to scream. But we still have each other. Both of my children are healthy and thriving, even though they often call me with some of the craziest notions known to mankind. My sister is still being “big sister,” occasionally forgetting that she’s my sister and not my mother. And I have established myself in a career that brings me pride, joy and passion. Finally, while I can’t say every day is a perfect “10,” I am healthy, my stomach is full and the heat — well, the heat’s still on.
What else do I really need? What else should I want? I can’t wait to open that envelope or package from my firstborn child, Jasmine, and see what she came up with for her old man. Maybe I’ll cheat just a little and open my gift a little early this year.