My Christmas ‘want’

I was at a mall in Vancouver last week—a really big mall comprised of three levels; a shopping maze that even the brightest of us would struggle to find his/her way from.
I’m fairly certain a GPS should be standard issue upon entrance to the mall.
I wasn’t shopping, not really. I wasn’t referring to a list and checking it off and walking with a purpose. Rather, I was meeting a friend and the mall was halfway between us and allowed for walking without getting snowed or rained on and without getting wet feet.
While I was sitting waiting for Karen to arrive, I overheard a conversation next to me about “what I want for Christmas.” The young woman speaking had a firm handle on what her Christmas needed to make it perfect. And I began to ponder.
I remember as a kid singing about all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, which wasn’t entirely accurate even when I was missing my front teeth. There were a few more things on my list, some of which arrived but inevitably most of them didn’t.
I don’t ever recall feeling unfortunate on Christmas morning because the things I had hoped for weren’t under the tree, however. There always was something wonderful waiting for me under the tree in spite of the list.
I remember, at a certain age, realizing that planning what I was going to give was equally as fun as what I was going to receive and eventually the receiving part fell to the side. When my children ask me now what I “want” for Christmas, I struggle to find an answer.
I’d like a garlic press like Samantha has; one that really works. I love new socks—not ordinary socks but the kind of socks that make you feel superhuman, bionic even.
But my girls always yawn and complain when I say socks.
I’ve ached for a table saw for years, but that seems extravagant now—even foolhardy. Try as I might, I can’t come up with anything.
When I couldn’t sleep the other night, I pondered what gift I would give myself if I could. If I could wrap up something that I’m lacking, what would that be?
My plans for my life were to live an extraordinarily ordinary life. I had no big plans to circumnavigate the planet or climb Mount Everest, or discover a cure for the common cold. Rather, I ached for something far simpler and far more meaningful.
I wanted peace to dwell in my heart; to take up permanent residence there and not to flee at the sign of danger. I wanted the positive memories that I have of childhood and dear friends never to leave me—to stick to me like glue, as if they were woven into my very cells.
I never wanted what I looked for in my life to exceed what I might put into the lives of others (although I come up short on many days, a hard truth).
As I was getting off the bus the following day, the driver confessed he had made a wrong turn. He dropped his arms at his sides and I heard him curse under his breath. It was not his usual route.
“I’m sorry,” he shouted into the rearview mirror. But not one single person complained. Everyone assured him they could adjust their route. Even the elderly couple that helped each other limp to the door smiled at him and patted his arm.
Meanwhile, a young woman was struggling to get her stroller off the bus with the gap created by the unusual Vancouver snowfall. She looked up at me with a request in her face, and I scooped up the bottom wheels and together we got the stroller on to the sidewalk.
It was a collective effort of understanding, of comforting each other, of not making a big deal of an inconvenient situation.
I was smiling as I strode down the sidewalk. That’s what I wanted for Christmas—an extraordinarily ordinary moment with the human race.
wendistewart@live.ca

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