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Christmas Lists: Then (Tangible) and Now (Intangible)

Photo Credit: “Black Running Stallion” by Alex Gavvy

Ah Christmas. It’s just over two weeks away. Plenty of time to make your lists and check them twice, right?

At various stages of Kid-dom, my Christmas list would read something like this:

Real Candy, with Chocolate—not that hard stuff, and please no fruit (Santa, fruit is not nature’s candy—you ain’t foolin’ nobody)
Baby Doll with a Stroller (I know, Santa, you gave me one last year but my bratty brothers threw a rock through the stroller and shaved all the hair off baby doll)
Barbie (Huh, and I know the difference between Midge or Marge or some other knockoff)
Bike (hey, Santa, a new one would be nice, but used is fine, too, since I know they are expensive)
Pack of Go Fish Playing Cards
Horse—not a stuffed animal but a Real Horse—a black stallion that rears up and paws the air
Books—Black Beauty, Black Stallion, The Incredible Journey, Call of the Wild, or any book about dogs or horses or wolves
A pair of black and a pair of white shiny vinyl knee-high boots
Blacklight and Poster

And with the exception of the horse (dang), I received those gifts in one form or another.

All of those gifts are tangible. One can purchase the item, wrap it up, and put it under the tree. Well, except for the horse. And though I knew the probability of having a horse was Probably Never, that didn’t stop me from racing to the window every Christmas and checking to see if my horse was tied up to the sweet gum tree in our front yard, pawing the air and shaking its mane and looking me right in my eyes with a gaze that said “No one can ride me but you…!” Yeah. Hope springs and all that. Though magical, a horse is still a tangible gift, albeit an unrealistic one (at least unrealistic for me; my best friend did receive a horse for Christmas, siiiiigh).

At various times in my life we were pretty danged poor, so some of my listed items weren’t easy to come by—as a matter of fact, we kids didn’t really make lists. If we were asked, we’d state our wishes. Maybe some years we’d write a few things down. The lists were never long.

SPOILER ALERT! Cover the kiddies’ eyes! (I’ll place the “read more” tab here; I mean, just in case, y’all.)

My father told us there was no Santy very early on. By time I was about 4 years old, Santy magic did not come to our house ever again. We knew that those presents under the tree were bought by my mom (Dad, rest in peace, well, Dad just never thought about buying presents for us). We understood on some level that the money for presents came from cash that would normally go to food and housing and clothing. That didn’t stop us from wanting! That’s what Christmas begets: Wanting! But our wanting was tempered by not expecting too much.

Somehow, though, my mom always found a way to have presents under the tree for us. And the magical wonderful thing about that is this: whether we had asked for a certain item or knew it was best not to ask because times were hard, it didn’t matter, because once we dived under the tree and began unwrapping, we thought how everything we received was just what we wanted no matter what our list might have been, spoken, written, or dreamt—we were happy, even with a sack of fruit and hard danged ol’ candy.

Fast forward to my much Older-dom, the post-published author phase of my life, and the list would read something like this:

New York Times Best-Seller
Win a Literary Award
Number 1 (again please!) on Kindle
People to love me and love my books and think I am AWESOME!
Yeah, yeah: Love and peace and health and all that jazz, etc., etc., etc.
Write a book that goes viral
Oprah saying “and a Magendie book for YOU, and a Magendie book for YOU, and a Magendie book for YOUUUUUUUUU!”
Book to movie

Do you see the difference in those two lists? Other than the obvious, of course. In the second list, the items aren’t tangible; one can’t purchase them; someone can’t place these things under the tree where I’ll rip them open, happy-shiny paper flying willy-nilly, the givers grinning their fool heads off because they’ve made another person feel joyful. The gift wishes in the second list are Hah-Uge, and for all but a few, could be almost unattainable. With a list like that, one could be forever unhappy at Christmas, forever feeling slighted, forever just a little bit sad. One could sit there among the twinkly lights feeling sorry for one’s self while all the others are ripping open their tangible packages with glee.

I’ve been altering my List. And by altering that list, I’ve felt something lighten in me. I’ve felt a peace come over me. I’ve felt my Christmas Spirit more spirity. My list is one that would make someone else happy in the giving. One that my friends or family could happily and sneakily purchase, wrap up, and place under the tree, anticipating my reaction.

For when year after year I say, “Oh, all I want is (above list),” I take away something magical and wonderful from Christmas. I take away someone else’s joy of giving. I take away the Greedy Anticipation of Gift-Receiving.

But mostly, I take away my own personal joy 365 days a year. So, on my list this year is: Stuff. Tangible, touchable, Stuff. Stuff that I may use once and never again, or Stuff that I use until it is no longer usable, or Stuff that I devour in all its chocolaty goodness. Stuff, Stuff, Tangible Stuff!

What about you? What is on your Christmas List this year? And is it similar to my second list? And if so, want to join me in hoping for something tangible, something wrap-able, something we can tear into on Christmas morning with joy and abandon? Yeah! Whoohooo!

Well Folks, as I finish this up, I await and make preparations for what comes in the form of Winter Storm Diego. Western North Carolina, where I live not far from Asheville, has a Snow Target on its back. If all the dire warnings come to fruition, I could be right buried in snow here in my lil Log House. I may lose power, and if I do, I can only thank you in advance for the hundreds of comments I am sure to receive on my brilliant musings (okay, I am laughing as I type that! haw!). Wish me luck!

About Kathryn Magendie [2]

TENDER GRACES, Magendie's first novel, was an Amazon Kindle Number 1 best-seller. As well as her novelist life, she’s a freelance editor, personal trainer, and former Publishing Editor of The Rose & Thorn. Her short stories, essays, poetry, and photography have been published in print and online publications. Her novels are available in print and ebook. Along with her freelance editing, she's website editor for Edge of Arlington Saw & Tool. She lives in the Smoky Mountains in a little log house in the Cove at Killian Knob in Maggie Valley, Western North Carolina with her wonky-toothed little dog named lil Bear. Sometimes there is vodka in the freezer. Critters love her. Some or all of this is likely true.