This past week was Thanksgiving, and my children have been working on their Christmas wish lists for about three weeks now. I remember that anxious cry, “When is it coming? When will I grow up? I can’t wait until I’m older!” I remember the endless hours of pouring over the pages and pages of toys in the Sears catalogue, creating and changing over and over again the perfect list. The pining away at all the things I couldn’t do because I was too young.

Then suddenly, it seems, I don’t make Christmas wish lists anymore. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I did. Was it thirteen? Did I make it that far? What changed? I can’t say it was the realization of who Santa was; I always had my hunches. Was it the realization that my single mother really never could get everything on that list? Was it a shift to the people around me that turned my focus on what I would be getting everyone else rather than what I would be receiving? That list of what I want did certainly morph into the Christmas list for others. A long stretch of names and the item(s) that were calculated with careful consideration.

I used to pride myself on getting gifts that surprised people, that had them exclaiming, “How did you know?” In all honesty, I was always good at just banking away information I picked up on throughout the year. The friends that dried their lettuce with paper towels at the dinner party in June got a salad spinner, the friend that put a book under my mug to save her table got fancy coasters, the friend that told me secretly that Beauty and the Beast was her favourite movie got tickets to the live show.

Something else changed with gift giving that my husband and I discovered very early on in our relationship: we were both impatient. We would see something the other would like, buy it, and stash it away for all of a day or maybe just a few hours and then we’d break saying, “I got you something for Christmas, do you want it now?” The other would respond, “Of course!” and we didn’t have to wait months to enjoy the reaction. In fact, our anniversaries consist primarily of a dinner or a movie because gifts just come when we see something that makes us think, “Hey, they would really like that!” and we pick it up immediately and bring it home with a “Just because it made me think of you” rather than an obligation.

Valentines isn’t celebrated around here, other than helping the kids organize their cards so that no one feels left out at school. The romantic bubble baths, gifts, and last minute dinner dates are because “It’s Wednesday” or because “I don’t feel like cooking” or “We haven’t hung out just you and me in way too long.” It is amazing how quickly the desire to get something turned into a desire to get things for others. I smile at how the kids share what they want with each other, cutting out pictures and drawing their ideal toys. I let them continue dreaming that they can have it all because somewhere along the line we are all told that we can’t have it all and then self-help people ask us, “Why do you people think there is a limitation to what you can have?” Maybe I should start making a Christmas list again.

My kids seem to be having a pretty damn fun time dreaming of all they want. Maybe next time they show me their list, I’ll have one to show them too. My guess is that making a Christmas wish list is a hell of a lot more fun than making my usual To-do list! What would be on your wish list?

About the Author

Stephanie Herrera is a comedian, writer, producer, teacher, singer, actor, mother of 4, and shallow philosopher. She runs the Durham Improv & Acting Studio in Oshawa, Canada, is a professor at Durham and Fleming Colleges, and is an award winning performer. / / / (647) 899-3342  Durham Improv Group and Business pages can be found on Facebook and follow @durhamimprov & @antimommy