Her name was Tilly Ethelyn. If I was being completely honest, I’d admit that she was almost as ugly as her name.
But it didn’t matter to me. In my young eyes, there was nothing as beautiful as unwrapping my very own CABBAGE PATCH KID – the hottest Christmas gift on the market that year. My heart swelled with gratitude as I silently thanked Santa, and my lucky stars, for bringing this perfect gift into my life. I would love her forever…
(Last year my father reminded me that Tilly’s covered in dust at the bottom of a closet. Over the years I may have forgotten her, but Dad still has the PTSD scars from the grueling and sometimes brutal hunt for the toy of the year. Nothing says love like a grown man desperately fighting for the last baby doll because his little girl wants one.)
I may be older now, but my Christmas wish list is no less daunting. See, I figured out that the best gifts are big, bold, and audacious, and should be shared with others. Since I’ve been a very good girl this year, Santa will soon be shimmying down my chimney to leave me an Easy Bake Oven (don’t judge!) and to grant these 3 wishes that I have in my heart for you:
1. Lose Your Goggles
Ever heard of beer googles? These days most of us are wearing Facebook goggles, Pinterest goggles, or whatever-else-the-geeks-are-thinking-up-next goggles. We see other people’s lives through the lens of social media and it is way too easy to feel that we’re the only boring ones on the planet. Log on to any site and you are bombarded with happy smiling photos in exotic locations, couples locked in passionate embraces, or clean children flashing their dimples.
We used to say that the grass is greener on the other side, but now it’s also high definition and in 3D! Still, most of it is an illusion. Few people post the other 99% of their lives. Who wants a Facebook feed full of folks digging through their refrigerators looking for weird smells or in the middle of explosive yet ridiculous arguments about socks?
Lose your goggles and know that your life is pretty normal – some high notes, some low notes, and lots of moments in between where nothing much happens.
2. Sing Christmas Carols in July
I have a friend who was known to sing Christmas carols year-round. And she would do so loudly, in public, inviting strangers to sing along. She did this for a truly revolutionary reason – she just liked Jingle Bells. No more, no less.
If there is something that you love, that brings you a bit of pleasure, do more to build it into your everyday existence. Go ahead, eat pancakes for dinner, paint your toenails green, or throw on a costume and attend your local comic book convention. Who cares if it seems uncool or odd to other people as long as you enjoy it.
By the way, when my friend invited strangers to sing, some people laughed, others smiled, and a small number even joined in. Her happiness was contagious and yours will be, too.
3. Stop and Smell the Oranges
My mother grew up in a tiny town in rural North Carolina. Her family didn’t have much money when they were young, so at Christmas the children were thrilled to receive the most decadent of treats – brown paper bags filled with oranges, nuts, and “confectionary” (hard candies). In a community where you mainly eat what you can grow or raise, spending money for these luxuries was a once a year privilege.
As a nod to this tradition, Mom would fill my sister’s and my stockings with oranges and nuts even when they could afford to spoil us with a Christmas tree full of shiny new toys. Now, whenever I smell oranges during the holidays, it is a potent reminder for me to be grateful for everything that I have. Grateful for the sacrifices that my parents made. Grateful that my only holiday stress is about WHAT to buy, not if I can afford to buy gifts for my loved ones or food for my table. Oranges remind me of how incredibly lucky I am and that many, many people can’t say the same thing.
Take a moment and be grateful for the little and big things. Your health. Your sanity. Your education. Your looks. Your loved ones. Your safety.
I know that my wishes may not be as exciting as the other gifts that you will receive this season – chia pets, scratchy sweaters, gift cards to stores that you never visit – but if you will commit to them you’ll quickly notice a difference in your life. More joy, hope, opportunity, and energy will all be available to you as you take on the challenges of 2014. That’s what I wish for you, and that’s all I want for Christmas.
Is that too much to ask?