What do you want for Christmas?

Letter from 2012-12-03

My wife and I were returning home from church yesterday and she asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Why is this question such a difficult one? It seems like the older I get the harder this question seems to be.

Growing up Christmas was the highlight of the year, next to the national holiday (my birthday). We would mark the calendar, countdown the days, leave reminder notes and everything else… All in an attempt to make sure that our parents didn’t forget that Christmas was approaching.

We would get the JC Penney’s, Sears and Children’s Palace catalogs. I remember the tireless hours meticulously going through these books selecting the just the right gifts for myself. I would mark the gifts with consideration of value (how much I would love getting these toys), total cost of ownership (how much I would love YOU for getting me these toys), and how age appropriate were these toys (did I have to share with my brother, or not). It was a science!!! My list every year was probably a solid 150-200 items, easily.

One thing that was always interesting was that my grandmother (Nanna) was a business woman. She bought and sold used goods. She was the original offline eBay. She had a mobile store, satellite locations and a brick/mortar retail location in Huntington, WV. She was a very successful entrepreneur. As a child, there was only one small problem with Nanna’s business and it was that she acquired her goods from regular people. You know the type… people having garage sales, rummage sales, flea markets, etc. Nanna always had a LOT of gifts which was very cool. But, 99% of the time, she didn’t go by my masterful list.

Nanna loved giving clothes. The only thing about her clothes was that there was always this unmistakable smell that they had. I call it the Flea Market smell because whenever you go to a flea market… it’s that same smell.

She always loved giving toys. The funny thing about her toys would be this… What is going to be MISSING from this toy? When comparing your toys with the other children, you notice little things. My GI Joe with the Kung Fu grip didn’t have a holster / gun, my Matchbox cars didn’t have that collectible sticker for my bike, little nuances, tiny things that us kids would notice that grown folks seemed to miss… and almost none of the toys came in a manufacturers sealed container. Did you know that on the back of the box is a story about where the black GI Joe came from? Can I read the story? Can I get the box?

Christmas morning was always joy and pain. My parents would go to a church service on Christmas morning and leave Nanna home to guard the tree. When my brother and I would wake up the only places that we were allowed to go were to the bathroom and back to our rooms. We had to wait for Mommy and Daddy get back home before we could come downstairs to even SEE the tree and they would be gone FOREVER!!! It was horrible, torturous, cruel and unusual punishment!!!

I really miss those times.

The crazy thing is that over the years I’ve started giving my father’s answer to the gift question. He would always say… “I’m alright”, “don’t worry about me” or “you don’t have to get my nothing”. I understand it better now. From a Dad’s perspective, he wanted to make sure that everyone else got whatever they wanted. For me, the joy of everyone opening their gifts, seeing their excitement and feeling the love that everyone is sharing, that is the gift for me…

What do YOU want for Christmas?
Btw, I wouldn’t mind getting a motorcycle. I’m just saying…

I love you ALL!!!
Stay blessed,

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