The paper in front of me is blank but for the two words underlined at the top:
I’ve been staring at it for twenty minutes now.
It’s incredible to me that I’ve been asked to fill out my Christmas list so early. Halloween doesn’t seem so long ago. Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet. Then again, a quick trip to the Target or Walmart in town will tell you Thanksgiving really isn’t celebrated that much anymore, at least commercially. There isn’t any money in it. I remember growing up in my tiny little town, seeing the streets all but deserted every Sunday because none of the businesses were open. Now, a Sunday afternoon looks much like a Saturday. There is no Sabbath anymore, no real day of rest, so why should there be Thanksgiving. Go, go, go. Spend, spend, spend. It’s the way of the world now.
Sounds a bit jaded, doesn’t it? A little cynical? Probably so. Then again, I’ve often been accused of being a person trapped in time, more suited to days past than days current. In almost any situation, what you’ll likely get from me is something along the lines of, “I like things the way they used to be.” Maybe that’s just a product of my upbringing. Maybe I’m a forty-one-year-old relic. If so, that’s fine.
But this Christmas list thing is getting to me. I don’t know why. I’ve filled out lists earlier than the week of Thanksgiving many times (when I was a kid, the first draft of my letter to Santa was usually ready by the first of September), and I well understand the need to pinch pennies. All the best sales are in the next ten days. That’s what I’ve been reminded of several times the past week. So yes, I understand. That’s another product of go-go-go and spend-spend-spend. It’s so horrible and painful that it’s best to do it all like a Band-Aid—rip it off as fast as possible.
A secret, just between you and me: Sometimes I just want to skip the whole thing. Buy for the kids, of course. Put up the tree. Get the outside fixed up with candles and lights and the same plastic Nativity that’s so old and worn it’s become a family heirloom. But that’s it. Nothing else. No presents for family or teachers or pastors or Sunday School teachers. Instead, fold all that money up and sneak it into the nearest Salvation Army kettle when no one’s looking. That would be a real Christmas to me. Strip all the glitter and glitz away. Find the real beauty underneath. Like Sundays used to be. And Thanksgiving.
Have you ever noticed that the most special things in life tend to be the most boring on the outside? Sitting down to a meal with family? Kind of boring. Watching the sunset? Boring. Taking a walk? Please.
Talking with your child. Or your parents.
Watching the fire on a cold evening.
Listening to the critters in the woods from the front porch.
How many times have I done all of these things in the past year and decided what I was doing was merely wasting time? Time better spent working, Getting Things Done? I wonder. And now I’m wondering if much of the same thinking that went into opening all the stores on Sunday and having Christmas sales on Thanksgiving Day is in me as well.
There’s plenty wrong with the world. But I guess if you get right down to it, what’s wrong with the world is me.
I’ll tell you what I want for Christmas this year—365 days of those boring moments. I want a life stripped of the glitter and glitz. I want the basics. Those are the things that matter when you get down to it.
Those are the things that keep us going.