“What do you want for Christmas?” adults used to ask me when I was a young child, and I remember taking this question very seriously. I’d stop whatever I was doing, stand straight and tall, look into the distance, clasp my hands together, and declare my deepest longings . . . one year, I remember answering, “A bicycle!”
To a kid, this line of inquiry is one of the most important rituals in our society! Especially if the exchange takes place within earshot of one’s parents or some generous aunt or uncle who might overhear the answer and fulfill a child’s dreams. You inherently knew, as a kid, it was one of the most critical statements you could make. To this day, I love to watch how kids respond while engaged in this ritual.
As we grow older, our answers to this same question become somewhat socially awkward. It’s almost like someone just said, “How old are you now?” And for the really shy person, this question might feel more like, “Who’d you vote for during the last election?”
In the adult version of the “What do you want for Christmas?” ritual, the oft-heard response is, “Oh, I really don’t need anything,” or perhaps, “You know, I really haven’t thought much about it.” In this version, the participants I’ve witnessed gave off the body language of someone hoping no one was overhearing their conversation!
So it seems, from my observations, that as we grow older, our Christmas list ritual changes. As a kid, a complete stranger could ask me what I wanted for Christmas, and it seemed perfectly acceptable. Now, I would expect this question only from my wife, Kathryn, who happens to love giving gifts, and possibly an inquiry from a few close relatives.
This year, my Christmas list is very specific, and the gifts are longed for in the depth of my being. Fearing I sound a bit like Miss America when she’s asked her biggest wish, and she responds, “World peace!” I would add to this wish my heart’s desire for two others . . . for justice and civility to rule in our land and in our world.
May your own celebration of the arrival of the Prince of Peace into this world be filled with joy and wonder!
Thanks for being part of what is right with the world. May you have a joyful Christmas!