Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Favorite Things

It's a somber time, it's been a hard year for a lot of us, but Christmas is resilient.

Even after a fire, disaster, or tragedy we try to give our kids a sweet day.  Twenty years ago I would have been hunting down toys and visiting Santa but now it's more low-key, "What do you need?" and "How are you for shoes?"  Some of my kids don't get up any earlier than they would on any other day.  Later, in fact, not too many surprises awaiting under the tree.

This year, I think, it will be more low-key still.  We have a grandchild we've been able to shield from the news, and she's excited, so that will be fun.  Three-year-olds are just plain fun anyway.  She makes me be Swiper when I'm babysitting at night.  Sometimes that's the only time I'll laugh all day.  She's  hilarious.When I write she'll sit in my room with me and draw on a hundred post-it notes, sticking them all over my walls to entertain herself.  She's a love.

So we'll have a good time for her, and everyone loves a stocking, and most of us will go to Church, and thank God for sending us his Son to try to help us understand what's important and meaningful in life.

And then there will be presents.

What put presents into perspective for me this year was the realization, as I was sitting in Church last week zoning in and out, still in shock, thoughts racing, that no matter what happens on Christmas, it won't change who's most precious to me, or even what.  I have more than I need, many times over, and though I am grateful, I am not greedy.  I could get by on far less, and have, and will again.    

Anything I get for Christmas will be "extra" and not replace the essentials things I use in my daily life that make me happy and productive.  I took some time this week to narrow these down to an even dozen.  

Try it yourself.  It's kind of interesting.  

As you can see, they're more practical than sentimental, which describes me, I think. But I have strong feelings even about the practical things.  

My house keeps me safe and, except for the week after Sandy, keeps me warm. 

My computer helps me write. 

My phone (above) keeps me in contact with my family, and substitutes for a book or a camera I forgot.

My sneakers keep me healthy and happy on walks, my favorite clothes help me feel better about myself. 

My car is utterly reliable, leaves me money for things other than gas, and is easy on my back on long rides.  

My bed and and bookshelves and bathtub are my relaxation and pleasure.

My washer and dryer are the love of my daily chore life, fast and easy and in my kitchen so I don't have to hike cellar stairs.

My coffeemaker with its autoset gives me a reason to rise early to write--it's warmth and comfort and luscious aroma waiting for me in the dark and the chill of the house before dawn. 

There there's the two sentimental things:

My daily jewelry, linking me to the people and stories associated with each piece .

The scrapbooks I've spent years on, one for each child (or more, sorry to all of you who aren't the youngest, when your Mom finally got a nice camera)  plus ones for all our trips and holidays.  

I'd have Mark help me drag these scrapbooks out if we had a flood, after we saved all the people and our dog.  But before we worried about medications and passports and car deeds or even computers--those things are replaceable, backed-up somewhere else.  Visual memories of my kids' childhoods are not, and took hundreds of hours to create.  They're important.  

Still, as you scroll down, it is so obvious that even with the care that I put into and take out of these things, they're just objects, and truthfully, as happy as these things make me, if my favorite things weren't these exact objects, they would be others.  Because favorites come from the midst of things we possess. My dozen next-favorite things would be up top.  Or other things.  It wouldn't really matter.  I'd be the same person in different clothing, a different house, with a different car.  Maybe, sadly, without the scrapbooks.

But if I didn't have the important people in my life, I'd be a different person.

In a year that's been hard, and even one that's not, giving presents to each other doesn't make a lasting difference in our lives.  

It's a pleasure, and it's fun, but in the end it's just another way to say "I love you" and "I want you to be happy."

It's a way to say "I'm glad you're here."

Merry Christmas
Love, Lisa

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