October 06, 2011

Thinking About Christmas

A few weeks ago, I started to write a post about how I have decided to let Santa bring my family a new TV for Christmas this year.  But before I say any more, here's an assignment:  Grab a pencil or pen (go on), and write down a list of your ten favorite things.  And by ten favorite things, I mean, if you were moving to a new city and were only allowed to take ten things with you, what would you take?  What ten things that you own would you not be able to live without?

OK, put that list aside for a moment.  Grab a new sheet of paper, and describe the one or two or three happiest places you've ever been; places where your soul was at rest, where you felt free and alive and peaceful.

Now take both lists and put them side by side.  How many of the things on your first list did you have when you were in the places you listed on your 2nd list?  How many of those things are what made those places so special to you?  Was it those things that put your soul at rest, that made you feel free and alive and peaceful?

Now, about that TV...

There's just, oh, one or two of fifteen problems.  One, Christmas is still three and a half months away.  Well, it was when I first started writing this.  Now it's only two and a half months away.  A month ago, I was finding it hard to wait for a new TV, because I saw all those beautiful, large screen TVs in the stores, and I wanted one NOW.
After all, compared to our giant box of a TV with its cathode-ray tubes and un-sharp picture and off-color images and permanently-on captioning (the color and the captioning the result of having broken the remote which is the only way to adjust such things), the wall of new TVs at the Big Store down the street sure do look cool.  "Let's go get our TV!" My wife said to me.  "Yeah, but then what will Santa bring us?" 

"Oh yeah."

I went to the public library the other day, intending to return a giant monster of a novel that took me all summer to read.  (I mean that literally.  I renewed it once, then tried to renew it again but was told someone else had placed a hold on it.  So I turned it in and immediately placed a hold on it myself, so that I could get it back and finish it.)  I didn't intend to check any new books out, but on the shelf I saw "The 100-thing Challenge." 

Perhaps it goes without saying, but it's about a man who decided to live a whole year with only 100 "things" in his possession.

Reading the book reminded me of the lists I've made for myself, the same lists I assigned you at the beginning of this essay.  And I remembered then that none of my "happy places" made my list #2 because of anything that was on my list #1.

Not even a fancy TV or any other electronic device.

In fact, at the top of the list of happy places is a cabin with a bare plywood floor and a canvas roof - more of a tent, really than a cabin - where I spent several summers while counseling summer camp back when I was in college.  Everything I had with me while I lived in that tent-cabin came with me in a duffel bag. 

In the month since I first started writing this, it has dawned on me that we don't really watch TV all that much.  At this moment, I can't even remember the last show I watched on the TV.  I think it was some DVD movie from Netflix that none of us remembers requesting and which was incredibly boring, despite having some big name actors in it.  (Incidentally, it is also the last DVD movie we'll be watching from Netflix, since we, like so many others, have cancelled that service.)

I mentioned this to my wife.  Together, we then decided that Santa could bring us something else for Christmas, something that isn't really a "thing," but more of an event, an activity that our family can do together.  Santa has already paid for this, in fact, and it's just waiting for Christmas day.  And, unlike the TV, this gift might actually make our family happy.

1 comment:

keithwatkinshistorian said...

Danny, I don't plan to make the lists you mention, but the attitude you describe is a good one and I will ponder it for a while.