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A year ago last Thanksgiving, my wife and daughter asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Truthfully, and after much thought, I replied, “Nothing.”

Two pairs of narrow eyes glared back. “You know that’s not helpful.”

It’s true. There’s nothing I need or want. In this strife-filled world, how blessed so many of us are to not really need anything. To be gainfully employed, owning our own home, with everyone in reasonably good health.

We’re the lucky ones. We truly have it all.

In today’s culture of instant gratification, holiday gift-giving poses a big challenge for the giver. With mobile computing, online shopping, and overnight delivery, anything that pops into our heads can become ours in minutes. When Christmas comes around, we realize that anything we might want, we’ve probably already gifted ourselves months earlier. Sometimes things arrive that my wife even forgot she ordered. Surprise!

How do you shop for people today when, in this consumer culture, every day is Christmas?

Finally, I relented. With a preamble of something about the best things in life being free, I texted my wife a list of what I really wanted for Christmas this year….

  1. A long, stimulating ☎️ conversation with an old friend without a time constraint
  2. To get through more than two sentences of my next story without someone hijacking it
  3. Declaration of January 2023 as Gluten-Dairy-Chemical Preservatives Appreciation Month
  4. Permission to scream [X] times (negotiable) at the TV during a 🏈 game with impunity
  5. A one-time pub pass to go drink beer and hear a random musician perform
  6. A third (and maybe fourth) glass of wine tonight
  7. An allowance
  8. A sugary-sweet, oat milk-free coffee creamer of my very own
  9. To be relieved of my household passcode-manager-for-life responsibilities
  10. …More sex  😘

Audible laughter came from the other room.

A week later, Christmas came. Despite everyone’s pledges of simplicity and moderation, we all managed to come up with unique and original gifts that surprised each other and made us all feel loved. Love has a knack for doing that. I particularly loved finding everything bagels and International Delight French Vanilla creamer with red bows in the fridge on Christmas morning.

Later that day, opening a special gold box at a very specific minute of the day, my wife’s iPhone in the box vibrating, the name of an old buddy I haven’t talked to in years flashing on the phone face. My wife beamed with relief as she guided me to the den, a just-opened bottle of Yellowtail shiraz and a glass awaiting my arrival, my buddy and me already lost in time.

I didn’t get everything on my list.

Despite an intense lobbying campaign, Gluten-Dairy January never happened. My spontaneous family civics lessons still never make it to a full head of steam. But the important stuff, the stuff Amazon can’t bring you, the stuff only people you love can give you – you can have all most of these things.

Just remember this year to ask for them.

Devin Householder

Devin is passionate about writing, reading and remaining in emotionally harmful relationships with losing sports teams. He suffers quietly (except on Sundays) with his loving wife and daughter in Rhode Island.

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