I had a conversation with my younger daughter the other day that gave me a bit of pause.
She called me on the telly telling me she had a question for me. A rather vague question, she said, but she needed to ask it.
And then she popped the question. “So, I am thinking about getting you a Christmas gift that is not exactly practical.”
My heart leapt.
She continued, “I mean, it could be, depending upon how you choose to use it. But really, it’s not terribly practical. And I don’t know….”
I interrupted her, all excited, “Well, Alex,” I said, with more than a bit of sarcasm in my tone, “My middle name is not exactly Practical.”
OH MY GOSH! This was such exciting news to me! I might actually get a fun, dumb, exciting, not expected, surprise for Christmas. That would be so wonderful.
She totally missed my excitement and sarcasm. In fact, I don’t think she was even listening to me. So then she started to back off. “Well maybe it’s not the best idea. I really think you’d like it, and like I said, it could be practical, I think, but I’m not sure you’d see it that way.”
I quickly clarified that I would absolutely love to get a non-practical gift.
But I gotta wonder, where oh where in the world did she ever get the idea that I ever wanted a practical gift at Christmas or at any other time?
I am the kid in this family, for goodness sakes. I am the one who refuses to grow up! I am the one who buys practical things as I need them. I certainly don’t want them for Christmas or for birthdays.
Now I know I married into a family of practical gift giving. I know that the tradition is to go shopping together and everybody picks out what they want and then someone else buys it, wraps it up and gives it to them at Christmas time. Or at the very least, we make out lists of the exact items we desire and give that to those who will be buying for us and then they buy from that list.
This completely goes against my grain. In my opinion, there is no point in even giving gifts if we’re going to do it that way.
Christmas are supposed to be like when we were kids. Or at least like when I was a child. On Christmas Eve my family would crowd around the tree, piled high with beautifully wrapped gifts for everybody. I never knew what was in them.
Well, that’s not strictly true. One year when I was about eight or so, I peeked and found all my gifts before Mom got them wrapped. I tell ya what, that was the most disappointing Christmas ever, so I never did that again. I am definitely a quick learner.
So, we’d all four kids dig into that pile of presents and about 3.2 seconds later we’d emerge from the pile of wrapping paper all aglow with the exertion of unwrapping packages and then we’d sit and sort through all the treasures and actually figure out what we’d gotten. It was totally glorious.
Unfortunately, I also learned from my new family that the proper way to open gifts is one person at a time, one gift at a time, so I never let my kids just dig in and have at it. I totally regret that now. Bad, bad parenting on my part. If we are ever all together for Christmas again, we are going to have a present-fest. I will make sure there are dozens of gifts for each of them, even if it’s just a rock or something like that in each box, just so they can have the thrill of tearing through them at breakneck speed and be all winded and rosy-cheeked when they are done. So that they have to find their ways out of the deep pile of wrapping paper, and emerge covers with bows and pretty ribbon. That’s what Christmas gift opening should be like. Not this one present at a time, oh wait, we need to throw that gift wrap away and make room so we can see the next person open their present crap.
Anyway, so this year, I think I might be getting a fun gift. Not an electric toothbrush or screwdriver or book or slippers. All gifts that I truly love, I truly do, but I think I might be getting something fun and silly and worthless and something that is just, well, non-practical.
I’m already happy just thinking about it.