I like stuff.
I have been told many times that I am easy to shop for. If you can’t figure out what kind of gift I would like to receive after knowing me for more than a week and seeing my home at least once, you’re clearly an idiot.
What also makes shopping for me easy? Ask me: I’ll tell you exactly what I want.
How’s that for “easy”?
This time of year has historically been the busiest time at work for Hubby. We know he’s going to be MIA pretty much from mid-November until New Year’s. We all accept this as fact, count our blessings that he has a job, and deal with it accordingly.
Which means I never, ever complain about his schedule….and I make sure to send him a thorough itemized Christmas Gifts For Your Favorite Wife email with direct links so as to place his order for me without leaving his laptop.
Aren’t I so generous?
As usual, this year I am in charge of, well, everything.
We are hosting family all weekend. There’s been lots to do.
I am writing checklists for my checklists.
I am menu-drafting, grocery-shopping, roasting-pan-purchasing.
I am gift-shopping, wrapping, delivering, shipping.
I am asking who wants what, where can I donate this or that, how can I make you more comfortable in my home?
I am reminding the kids that Christmas is about being Thankful even more so than Thanksgiving. More about the Giving than the Getting. They help me donate food to Food Bank bins, money for the ill child at their school, toys to kids who don’t have any.
Today we went to Target and spent a good 30 minutes in the dollar section. They personally chose gifts for everyone who will be here for Christmas. Including each other. To them, this was serious business. A lot of thought was put into each gift they selected. I was patient…okay, I forced myself to be deliberately patient because I had more stuff to get done after that errand, but refused to rush them through the process.
We got home, and they hand-wrapped each gift they chose one by one. They put them under the tree all by themselves, chattering to each other about how excited each aunt/uncle/Grandma will be to see their names on those packages under the tree. They discussed how they were both being Such Good Listeners this week that Santa is sure to bring them the 3 special things on the lists they handed over to him when we went to see him at the mall. Their giddiness about the giving and potentially receiving lit the room brighter than the Christmas tree they sat beneath.
And yet again, they made me realize something.
If you missed it, earlier this week I noticed something very reassuring about my kids. And it was something I did, my husband and I did, that I feel is an inadvertant gift to myself.
Today they did it again. They made me realize something that has never happened before:
I have no Christmas list. (!!!!)
I don’t want anything. (I always want something…this revelation is a very new concept for me.)
I’ve been all over Creation to find Hubby things that will make him smile on Saturday morning. I’ve been back and forth with delivery people. I’ve been wrapping his stuff on the sly, sneaking it into the attic, anxious to see the way his eyes crinkle with joy when he’s caught by pleasant surprise.
Yet, still, absolutely nothing comes to mind when I think what could I ask Hubby for this year? I’ve tried to write an email, a little list. And….nothing comes.
But there is a peace within me that surrounds this lack of desire.
I think the past year or so has made me live in the present a little bit more than I had been.
13 months ago my father died from his cancer once the life support he was on was turned off.
9 months ago my mom was diagnosed with cancer.
Right after that, a relationship with one of my brothers sadly shifted in a way I never expected.
3 months ago mom finished chemo, and I began a series of tests to see if I had any susceptibility. (So far, so clean.)
Recently I have heard of multiple marriages from around my own wedding ending. Young spouses dying unexpectedly. Children falling terribly ill. I have a marriage I believe will last. Brilliant healthy children. Love all around me.
I know what there is in life to lose, whether you take it away from yourself by living in the past or not living in the moment. I spent hours this Summer and Fall laying in bed at night, sleepless with hope that I don’t have any of cancer’s faint shadows hiding from the doctor’s scopes.
Nine years ago, on 9/11, after running the streets from 42nd & 3rd to the Hudson River ferry, I walked straight through a crowd of people who just heard the Towers (where I was supposed to be then but wasn’t) fell and stood next to the man I never questioned I’d find on that day in the sea of thousands. There was no text with directions. I simply ran and knew I’d find him. We have radar for one another. He kept me in a safe place that day. It’s my job to keep being safe. There is no other option for us other than to be Us.
I’ve had to let go of a lot of things in life, and today when my kids were under that tree being all about the giving, I realized exactly how much I already have.
What I have cannot be weighed by anyone but me. I know what I’ve really lived. I know what I have been willing to give up without complaint, what secrets I continue to hold. I have chosen to be happy so many times, when the other option was a whole lot easier and no one would have begrudged me for going that way.
When you are making a future so different than your past, it is easy to forget about the moment you are currently in.
But today, as the kids sat beneath the tree I dragged into this house with my own two hands, talking about presents, I knew there was absolutely nothing I needed or wanted more than My Present.
Merry Christmas, Kim. You got it.