I promise you I’m not some bad-tempered Scrooge, a pessimistic old Grinch who’s trying to tear down the very foundation of the holiday spirit. It’s merely a suggestion, just a forewarning that my list of all things I want might look a little unusual this year.
It was different being an eager ten-year-old, patiently pacing the tree awaiting to open up the new bike/toy/hamster I had eagerly prayed for months prior. The lists of objects and items I scribbled down were sure to bring me the utmost happiness. And they did. The afternoons spent putting together new treasures were priceless. But, as with all things, those very objects lost their appeal and we were, yet again, searching for lasting contentment.
Now in my twenties, my wishes have shifted. Overpriced sweaters, faintly scented candles and new iPhones don’t really have the same effect they once did. With a job of my own and the ability to purchase the things I need, writing down lists of additional goods to buy me seems silly…and futile. While the thought of finding the perfect gift for that one person is wonderful, the joy it brings diminishes quickly. After all, that’s not what I think any of us truly want. Not even a tiny bit, actually. So I’ve decided to record my Realistic Wish List Of Someone Barely Surviving Her Mid-Twenties. You don’t even have to bother wrapping them.
- I want to hike back through the park we grew up in. I want the snow to cover the trails and our pockets to be full of bread crumbs to feed the wild deer. We would balance on the icy rocks in the creek and be comfortable in the silence.
- I want to go back to the diner where we spent our Sunday mornings. I want to split waffles and scrambled eggs while you eat all the bacon and I eat all the toast. We would occupy a booth for too many hours drinking coffee that’s gone cold yet, we’re so lost in conversation, we don’t even notice the stale taste.
- I want to stay up too late watching those old movies, playing the board games that were tearing at the edges from so much love. Not Monopoly though, it’s too long and we would only end up bickering about hotels and skipping Go.
- I want to go back to the abandoned parking lots that have the steepest hills with old plastics sleds that were more painful than anything. The sleds would have us keeled over in giggles as we fell off of them into a powder of snow. Our gloves would be wet with snow and our noses red from the cold. Regardless of our shivering toes, we’d insist on staying out for hours until just the thought of hot chocolate had us running back home.
- I want to take a late night drive through the fancy neighborhoods to see who would win our secret holiday lights competition. We would judge the houses on color, design, innovativeness. We’d pretend to write down our final scores and then disagree over who we thought would get first place.
- I want to wear pajamas all day while we ice sugar cookies (at least the ones we didn’t eat before they cooled). All the frosting would run together so our cute smiley faces would turn into a weird mesh of colors. We’d make extra to give to all the friends and neighbors who would stop by before dinner. After eating one too many, we’d complain how our tummies hurt as we reached to split one more down the middle.
- I want, just for today, the airports to close and the planes to be grounded and for you to stay. The miles between us would vanish and it would be like we never left. We would forget about our suitcases and our future journeys and our ambitious plans. And, even if only in that moment, we would be content where we are, simply because it meant we were together.
I want the s’mores over fire places, old stories read aloud, family pictures shared across coffee tables, and us, here. It’s not that I don’t want Christmas. I want to capture the spirit of it and wrap those memories up into tiny precious boxes that we can open up year round, whenever we felt like we need some extra love. I want the irreplaceable. I want the gifts that I can tuck away into the back corners of my mind that can keep me warm on days when the wind seems to blow a little bit harder. I want snuggles and cuddles and the things I don’t have to worry about making room for in my luggage. So, while my wish list might look rather odd this year, I still have one. The things I want, the things I need, have simply taken a different form. No bow required.