The question comes this time of year, like the clockwork tick of midnight. “What do you want for Christmas?” Every year, family and friends always ask one another what is the most precious thing they would like to receive? Each year, my answers come harder, weightier, like some kind of labored breathing. It’s tough to swallow and answer. It’s difficult to find a voice and each year, one more year, I find silence and a shrug is easy.
Why? Because just a week ago, we celebrated our gratitude for those things that we have, the things which grace our lives and make it whole. It is the feeling of falling leaves, a tide turning, and new light on the horizon. Why is hard? Because I have everything I could need or want. I have health and happiness. I have moments of joy and laughter, I have sadness and struggle. My life is rich beyond measure, and I am grateful for the beautiful ocean, the warm sun, the cold wind, the soft bed, the cats who adore my food provisions. So much of my life is blessed, how could I possibly want more?
So, the question comes to me and I am quiet. In my head, I answer this way:
“What do I want for Christmas? I want to have the sun make me smile on a spring morning. I want you, whoever you are, to be happy for a brief period every day. Give me the gift of your happiness, of your smile. When I am low, give me a hug and a smile. Giggle for no other reason than it feels good. Celebrate your freedom and your joy. If you get mad at someone, laugh it off. Teach me to do the same. Every once in a while, put a dollar in the hand of someone who needs it. Buy someone a sandwich and give it to them, maybe an orange juice, too. If someone falls, help them up and don’t just stare at them. When you wake up in the morning, feel good that you are whole and alive. Smile at your partner. Smile back at me. If the world comes crashing down, help me start picking it up a block at a time. I will help you do the same. Sit with me and watch a sun set. Call me for coffee when you want to talk or when you just want to sit. Let’s read a book together. Over coffee, on Friday mornings, let’s solve all the world’s problems, then meet again the next Friday to do it all over again. Teach me to make good espresso. Show me how to eat something I’ve never eaten before. Travel with me, somewhere, any where. Make me a card or an ornament out of salt dough. Hang the one I make you on your tree. Smell the roses, the bread, the coffee, and the pine trees. Taste the ocean and listen to a sea shell. Lay on the grass beside me and tell me what the clouds look like to you. Critique my writing, my photography, my art – with a loving hand and clarity of vision.
Buy a cow for a hungry family in another part of the world. Adopt a child in Sierra Leone. Fund a food drive, gather coats, and take care of cats at the shelter. Or dogs. Give gift bags to the homeless, toys for the children, and blankets to the local shelter. Volunteer to feed the hungry or soothe the afflicted. Tutor. Teach. Educate. Volunteer at the Library. Read to children. Teach them to read to each other.
Love someone. Love yourself. Love each other. Hug your cat, your dog, and your friend. Laugh at my jokes and teach me to laugh at yours. Remind me that this life is for living, not working. Take me by the hand and show me how to enjoy a cookie, a walk in the woods, or a moonlight swim. Bring me into your world, for a brief moment, and come with me into mine. Listen. Console. Hug. Touch. Walk barefoot. Catch rain in your hand. Do these things for me, for you. Do these things for the world. Make Christmas be a living 365 day celebration of life and love and joy and energy and knowledge and caring. Make Hanukkah light the world every single day. Color the world Kwanzaa and Diwali each moment. Live your creed every single day. Don’t talk to me about it. Don’t preach or write or anything. Just be the you who you were meant to be and be with me because I am who I am. Nothing more. Nothing less. Everything amazing.
For my friends, my family – this is what you can get me. Take all that material energy and really be part of my life and help me be part of yours. Help me be a better person because with you in my life and living with me in it, I can’t help but be that better person. You are all amazing. Let’s be amazing together.”
Yes, Virginia, I do answer it this way. I really, really mean it. It is really, really what I wish for. Now and for the rest of my life. In this season of renewal and rebirth, I look forward to the new year and all our time together.