The Christmas List

The Christmas list is my family’s time-honored tradition. The late-October arrival of the JC Penny Christmas catalog signals the start of the holiday shopping season. As kids, my brother and I would take turns eyeballing every page so that we could craft a well-rounded collection of wishes.

My mother always asked me to have my list ready by the beginning of the month so that she could use it to choose my birthday present. My brother and I were able to amend our lists throughout the month, but Momma did not accept any requests after Dec. 1.

Our lists were pages long, mostly filled with things that we had no chance of getting. I remember the year that my brother asked for gold bricks.

Our lists became more reasonable as we got older. And thanks to the advances of technology, we now e-mail our lists to one another.

Friends tell me that we’ve turned gift giving into too much of a science and that by doing so, we have zapped the fun right out of the whole process. I would argue the opposite. I enjoy writing the list, and I enjoy opening a present that I know I want. My shopping is a breeze because all guesswork is eliminated. So, everybody’s happy.

Twenty some-odd years of list writing has made me a professional. I can write a lengthy wish list and divvy it up among Mike, my parents, and my best friend Erika.

At least I thought I was a pro. Erika called me on Monday. “I need a birthday and Christmas list,” she said.

“Huh?” I asked. Then I realized that it was mid-November and I hadn’t even thought about it.

“Yes, your list,” she said. “Besides, once I see yours, it will probably give me some ideas for mine.” (Over the years I had spread the gospel of the list so much that others had caught on.)

With my birthday fast approaching, I decided that I better get cracking. I stared at a blank piece of paper for a while, and then I put it away. How could I, Queen List, be experiencing writers’ block?

Then a few ideas came. An activity table. A push and play walker. A baby doll.

This is the first year that my daughter will be able to crawl around the tree and cover my floor with torn wrapping paper. I thought about how much fun it will be to watch her discover her new things. I’m looking more forward to that than anything that I would get.

Motherhood has caught me off guard again. I’m still surprised at how Elyse changed me. There are the obvious adjustments like fewer nights on the town or more trips to the grocery store. But it’s the little things that show me how my priorities have changed and how cool it is to be a mom.

As I continued to think of gifts for Elyse, I decided that I could stand to open a present or two on my birthday. So I gave the list another shot.

Eight-quart stockpot. Steam cleaner. Daniel Green house shoes.

My list is shaping up to be drier than burnt toast. Maybe I passed all of my list-writing skills to Elyse. I’ll have to wait a few more years to see if she has the chutzpa to ask for gold bricks.

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