Friday, December 19, 2003

All I want for Christmas...

It's less than a week until the day when Christians experience the magic and miracle of the Christmas holiday. That time when families gather around a feast in celebration and fellowship. That time when our warmest thoughts are of friends and family to whom we haven't addressed a card yet. That time when you know you'll get a chance to see your black-sheep uncle get drunk on egg nog and... well... let's just say last year was veeeeery interesting. That time when all good little girls and good little boys celebrate the true meaning of the season - TOYS!

Growing up I can remember knowing that the Christmas season was upon us not by the shift in focus of television commercials but, rather, by the arrival of the Sears Wish Book. I don't know if Sears still produces this behemoth of a catalog since they shut down their catalog division but imagine a major metropolitan telephone directory and you'll get an idea for the size.

I can't tell you much about what the catalog contained. I know it featured clothes and bed linens but I never really examined it that closely. I can tell you with 100% confidence that the toys were at the back.

Christmas lists were not even attempted in our house without the aid of this authoritative tome of the latest and greatest toys and games on the market. Each of us three children would take turns thumbing through the catalog - backwards - and assembling our wish lists. Mine was usually the longest and most spectacular. I recall once or twice enumerating my requests and coming up with well over 100 items. As a child, I wanted.

As I grew up, the back of the Sears catalog became less and less important to me. Today, there are no authoritative assemblages of products on which I base my wish lists (unless you count the Best Buy ad inserts in the Sunday paper). Of course, that doesn't mean my lists are any less spectacular. In my family, my Christmas lists are items of legend. No matter how complicated the assembly, no matter how large the price tag, if it caught my eye, it was on the list.

Of course, to be fair to everyone's wallet, my list comprises a wide spectrum of price points. If you really want to get me an expensive gift, you'll know what it should be - often right down to the model number. On the other end, if money is tight, I'm happy with blank CDs or a Barnes & Noble gift certificate.

A couple of years ago, I was forced to do some soul-searching and discovered that I was being overly selfish in many aspects of my life. As it came close to the time when I would normally start my wish list, I left the pen down and decided that - in the true spirit of Christmas - I would not distribute a Christmas list. After all, I'm pretty easy to buy for. If it beeps, blinks, buzzes, plugs in or is battery or gasoline powered - I'll take it.

This decision, for some reason, did not go over well. From all members of my family I received queries of, "Where's your list?" When I told them I didn't have one and started to explain my ideological epiphany I was usually cut off by, "I have to have a list." or "How do I know what to buy you without a list?" So I quickly put together a, for me, modest list and sent it out some time between Thanksgiving and mid-December. It was still an excellent Christmas in the gift department.

So, now, even though I realize the grandeur of my Christmas list - which, in the past, has included high-end digital cameras, video cameras, PDAs, and any variety of blinking black boxes - is overtly selfish, it has become tradition. Every person can fill in the statement, "Christmas just isn't Christmas without ________." in some unique way. For some it's the B.C. Clark sale jingle or egg nog-flavored ice cream at Braum's. For others it's seeing Santa Claus sledding atop a Norelco razor or the first snowfall. In my family, at least in part, Christmas just isn't Christmas without Joey's Christmas list.

Therefore, in the family Christmas tradition, I announced my wish list this year with much grandeur and hoopla along the lines of, "I'm here. We can start the party now."

Honestly, the memories are the best gift (but, boy, am I getting a lot of mileage out of that home theater sound system I got a few years ago) --- They really are.

You all have a fun and safe holiday season!

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