Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SUPERXmas! Day 2: Today, I dream big, and am then charitable.

As promised, I sat down last night to make a Christmas list with Sweetie, a part of our effort to this year ramp up our Holiday Cheer and turn it into


Before we could actually begin the Christmas Listing, though, there were delicate negotiations to go through. They went like this:

Sweetie: I'm not going to do it if you're just going to post on your blog what my Christmas list is.

Me: Why not?

Sweetie: Because.

Me: You know, I've considered doing a post I call "The Invisible Sweetie," to explain why you seem to be absent from things when you are not.
Sweetie held fast to her refusal to exchange Christmas lists unless I promised not to post her list, and I finally caved in, but I (secretly) held out for the right to eat the last of the leftover homemade Chex mix from Thanksgiving.

We had to wait until after the Babies! went to bed, and even then, things were not so smooth, as I had planned on making the lists downstairs at our kitchen table while Christmas music played in the background, but Sweetie thought we should do them upstairs in our bedroom, where there is no Christmas music at all, and also things did not go that smoothly because Mr Bunches and Mr F were watching "Cars 2" in their bedroom while they fell asleep, and by that I mean "Mr F was in the closet trying to go to sleep" because that's where he sleeps these days, and I also mean "Mr Bunches was repeatedly getting scared by Cars 2 and calling me in there."

The movie "Cars 2" scares Mr Bunches. We don't know why. He refused, at first, to watch it. Then he'd watch it, but only through his fingers or sitting in the hallway outside of his room. Last night, he asked me to put it in their DVD player so they could watch it while they fall asleep (it plays all night, actually) and I agreed, thinking he now liked the movie, but three times he called me in there to tuck him in again, because he got so scared he left his bed.

Finally, he settled down, but only after he got his Lightning McQueen and Mater cars from downstairs and took them to bed with him, probably as some sort of protective totem. Also, Sweetie tucked him in.

Then we sat down to create our Christmas lists. The rules were: You have to name 21 items.

"Why 21?" Sweetie asked.

"Because it's a good, high number that'll force you to put down a lot of stuff instead of just "sweaters," I said.

We didn't worry about price -- we both know we're not getting all of the things on our list -- because the idea was just to dream.

Remember when you were a kid, and you'd make out your Christmas list? We'd do that every year, waiting for the Sears and JCPenney catalogs to arrive so that we could look through them and decide what toys and games we wanted, circling them in the catalog and writing them on a list to give to our parents -- first, to give to Santa when we were littler, and then to our parents once we knew.

I believed in Santa until I was really too old to have still been believing in Santa -- I was about 10, if not a little older -- because I loved that part of Christmas, the part where you can get anything you want, just by saying you want it.

I know that's not the "True Meaning Of Christmas" or any of that garbage, but it's part of the wonder of Christmas, for kids: the idea that anything is possible, that simply wishing for something can make it happen.

As we get older, we lose that. As we get older, we stop thinking of what we want or would like and we start thinking about what we need -- I traditionally, now, ask for things like "work pants" and "sweaters," because I don't like clothes' shopping and prefer people give me those things as gifts. But a couple weeks ago, when I told Middle Daughter that's what I wanted, she said it was boring, and I thought: It IS boring.

It is. It's really boring, and why should Christmas be boring? Answer: It shouldn't.

So we decided to list 21 things we wanted, because that gets you outside of "ties" and "gloves" and makes you think of things you really want.

Which is harder than it looks, at least for me: I had to keep going and checking, online, the names of things I wanted, while Sweetie's list was done in no time.

Here is what I am allowed to show you of Sweetie's list:

We were using little post-it list-y notes, and that is Sweetie's actual Christmas list... turned over because you don't have the proper security clearances.

Here, then, is my list, which took me about 15 minutes to complete:

You'll see it was tough to come up with 21 different things I wanted -- Kindle Fire is on there twice, something Sweetie pointed out after I was finished and we'd traded lists.

And part of what took me so long was that I had to have the required level of specificity for some items, because I've learned in the past that I do not necessarily share the same tastes as Sweetie and the kids, especially when it comes to blue jeans: they get me trendy jeans with big wide cuffs that are too long and which I hate, whereas I prefer my jeans to be more 80s-style. And the sweater one is especially important. There are about 33 zillion kinds of sweaters out there, but I only like one particular kind of sweater, really, and it's okay to be picky when you're dreaming.

Sweetie and I have not yet finalized our Christmas shopping plans. Usually we set a budget for each other and decide how much we'll spend before I take the boys out and get her gifts, and she goes and gets mine. So for now, every single one of those items might be under the tree when I wake up on Christmas morning, and that is fun to think about.

And now, I would like to get serious for a moment: I have a rule: For every dollar I spend on something frivolous or unnecessary, I spend a dollar on some charity or worthy cause. And, having now set out 21 things that I, with my really-very-good-life still find myself wanting, I have decided that I will also get a present for some person out there in Internet world.

Usually I go get a gift from one of those Giving Trees or the like at the Mall, but this year, as I did my list, I remembered Mateo and McHale Shaw:

who for a long time were the focus of my charitable efforts. The Shaw twins, longtime readers will remember, were born conjoined and separated; given a very grim prognosis, they've made it through dozens of surgeries to thrive and recently started school; they're a little older than Mr F and Mr Bunches.

Their parents, Ryan and Angie Shaw, not only are raising those two boys (and their little brother Maddux) but also helped fundraise to build a handicapped-accessible playground near their house, which, frankly, makes me ashamed everytime I collapse into a chair at 8:30 and think how tired I am.

So I decided that this year, I'm going to get Mateo and McHale, and Maddux, each a Christmas present, and I've gone to their website at Caring Bridge to drop Ryan and Angie a note and ask them what the boys would want.

It'd be great if everyone who reads this stopped by, as well, just to tell them hello, and then mentioned and linked to their site on their own blog. You don't have to get them anything (although a donation or present would be great-er) but just go log in, tell them you said "Merry Christmas" and then put a link on your own website to ask your readers to do that, too.

And to help spur you on, if you do that, and leave me a comment showing me where you've linked to the Shaw's site, I will enter your name in a drawing for a $20 Amazon Gift Card. I'm going to make this offer every day between now and Christmas, so here's the rules:

1. Visit Mateo and McHale Shaw's Caring Bridge site; you can get to it here. You'll have to sign in, but that's not so hard, right?

2. Leave them a comment in the guest book wishing them "Merry Christmas," (or happy holidays, or whatever nice greeting you want.)

3. Post on your blog a link to that site and tell people why you did it.

4. Leave a comment on this blog and tell me where to find your link.

I'll draw the name on December 26, so you'll have a little post-Christmas reward to look forward to.

And that was DAY TWO of SUPERXmas!

Day One is here.


Dr. Grumpy Bulldog, PhD of Awesomeness said...

Is it really charity if you do it so you can get something for yourself?

My XMas list sucks. I just put stuff from Amazon on my "wish list" and then tell my family. Most of it is DVDs and books because I don't like them buying clothes for me and music I usually just download. This year though might be Gift Card XMas because my sisters want Disney gift cards for when they go (again) in January. How many time women in their 30s and almost 30 can go to the same place without any kids or anything is beyond me, but now I'm getting on a tangent. My stupid brother ruined Santa for me when I was 5 or so, which probably explains a few things. I remember the entrance essay question for my college was "Whether they should say on TV shows there's no Santa." Needless to say this was not an Ivy League school. I forget what I answered, but it was good enough to get me admitted. Then again I probably could have written it in crayon and gotten admitted.

Briane P said...

That comment is a Kerouacian stream-of-consciousness work of art.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

You outdid me on your Amazon giveaway by posting twice as much in monetary contributions...don't think I see right through you.

Briane P said...

@michael: I only did $20 so that Grumpy wouldn't snark out at me about how $10 doesn't do anything.

@Grumpy: Phoebe, on "Friends" posed that same philosophical dilemma.

Nancy said...

My ten year old is asking but when I asked her, "If Santa is different than the idea you have of Santa now would you want to know?" she said no so I have at least another year. Her brother who is six said yes to that question but I distracted him and never answered. Probably bad parenting but some of the magic does go out of the day once it is just normal people giving you stuff. Don't get me wrong, I still like it but just not the same.