Tuesday, December 25, 2012

All I Want For Christmas


Tired this evening as I sit to try and type these words. It's still early. We haven't had dinner yet. The house (my brother's) is littered with toys and boxes, bags of used paper, snacks and cookies, empty drink bottles, dishes waiting to be washed. My brother is putting things in the oven to warm for dinner. My wife is wandering room to room and picking up things hoping to make a dent in the disastrous mess. The dog is wandering between my brother and my wife hoping that someone will drop food. The kids are on the couch watching some animated show on PBS. I'm in the dining room typing. My parents are both at their home in their beds sick with coughs, headaches, and extreme fatigue. My father-in-law is at his apartment likely working on installing a new sound bar for his television or relaxing to the sound of it (or watching television having given up on the very idea of getting it to work and planning to call me to come fix it). The world is basically as it should be and I'm tired, but I'm happy with this life.

My wife was especially tough to buy for this year. Her birthday is only a few weeks before Christmas and there is Hanukkah in between. She struggles to think of the things that she wants on a good day and under this kind of pressure, it's almost too much for her. Almost. This year she was just unable to come up with much of anything and I imagine that she was hoping I would just find the things she wanted and give them to her. I did my best and she seems to know that, but it is clear that she is not overwhelmed by the gifts. I've spent many a night after giving such a gift worrying that I screwed up and that I am bad in some way for not having figured out what it was that would have lit her on fire. This year, I think it's a good thing to remember that if we don't ourselves know what we want, there is little chance that someone else will somehow intuit it and provide it miraculously.

In many ways, that's a lesson I'm being taught repeatedly by life and have begun to learn. If I want something, I have to ask for it and make it happen. If I dream something, then it is up to me to create the reality of that dream. My wife knows that too, but I think that we have both learned throughout our lives not to ask. It's somehow impolite or wrong to let people know that you want things. If I tell them, the thinking goes, they might get it for me. Good heavens!

There is a guilt in wanting things for some of us, my wife and I included. It's as if wanting the thing somehow infringes on others. I can't ask because someone might go out of their way and provide it to me at their expense. And that is somehow a bad thing.

Well, it's not. It's not a bad thing at all to ask. It's bad only if I expect that people have to throw aside their lives to give me all I want. Asking is not in itself a bad thing. Staying quiet about it, well, that just might be one of the worst things of all. It leaves us lost, wanting, and without a voice. In short, it's a good way to become a victim.

All of which is to say that Christmas is a time of giving, yes, but it is also a good time to practice asking. I should practice that right now even though I don't think that this is one of my best writings. So here we go:

If you wouldn't mind too much, please pass the link to this blog entry onto one other person. As much as possible in the coming year I would like to increase the readership of these essays. I want to have to be thinking of more people as I write and be more concerned with how it is going. I don't know great way to sell myself to the larger public, so please pass me on to one extra person.

There, I did it and I'm still okay. I might not get what I want and I might even change my mind about wanting that thing. The important thing for me right now is to ask and get in that habit. Well, that and to always write on.

Merry Christmas everyone!