One Christmas, when I was a gappy-toothed, precocious firecracker of a eight year old, I received every single present I asked for. I remember how just weeks from Christmas I told my aunts the list of things I wished for on a family walk, how the day’s summer-heated glare was finally smudging into cooler dusk, the cicadas clamouring in the long grass as we wandered by. As my aunts took significant, obvious interest in my wish list to Santa, I began carefully bringing up the items I really wanted. An ornament stand. Pretty things to go on it. A new-fangled doona (eiderdown) to replace my blankets. A paint brush set. Things that I knew cost a bazillion dollars, and so wouldn’t get. But could still hope for.

Christmas arrived, and I still remember sprawling under the tree in my favourite cotton pyjamas opening up my first present – two tiny dog figurines. Every present I opened was something I had mentioned, casually or with desperate longing, in conversation weeks earlier, and I had to lie down (on my new doona!) with an icepack later that day to cool my poor, over-extended grinning muscles, still wriggling in delight at my bounty.

It was only years later that I realised that my family had been terrified I was going to die from a severe recurring allergic reaction, and they had decided I was going to have the perfect gift—whichever one it was on my list.

Christmas seems to be the time where the pressure is on to find That Special Someone (or, usually, several Someone of Varying Specialness) THE GIFT TO END ALL GIFTS. You know, the present that will make their awesome/average/contented/unhappy/whatever life perfect, due solely to YOUR incredible benediction. The pressure to perform is immense, intense and usually doomed to failure. Any shop open at 11pm on Christmas Eve bears witness to the madness that falls on the present procrastinator, to be surpassed only by the desperation felt by the receiver the next day on trying to hide their horror/dismay/fury/hilarity/confusion at the object sitting/rolling/leaning/hopefully-not-breathing-or-whining in their hands.

There’s danger inherent in gift giving. Maybe they won’t like it. Maybe they’ll even say so. Maybe the time, effort and inspiration you put into that present will be tossed away, unappreciated. Maybe the little token you pass to someone is taken to mean something it doesn’t, spiralling you both into future madness and chaos? Maybe the pressure is just too much?

Because after all, if my secret wish for several Christmases was to be locked in a (super-lush) hotel room for 24 hours on my own, unable to speak to, see or touch another person, what was the likelihood of getting that perfect present? Particularly if I didn’t tell anyone? Particularly knowing it simply couldn’t happen? Sometimes the perfect gift just isn’t possible.

Except in our own private, For-Segullah-Eyes-Only wish list! So, ladies. An hour’s go-carting? Learning how to scuba dive? A 48-hour movie marathon? To not have the baby on Christmas day? The ability and opportunity to dance like Beyonce? A particular book and uninterrupted time to read it in? A “Get out of Gaol/Jail Free” card? If you could receive it, what would be your ‘perfect present’ this year? (And in the interest of Miss World/Universe/Perfection 2011, requests for ‘world peace’ will not be accepted).

What is your wish? Do you tell people your wish-list? Do you expect to receive a present this Christmas? Do you know what it is? If not, do you think it will be a good one? Have you ever received a particularly perfect or appalling present, and if so, details please!

December 21, 2010

53 Comments

  1. Paradox

    December 22, 2010

    All I want for Christmas is my mission call.

  2. bth

    December 22, 2010

    I just love this post. And the edict to avoid “world peace” requests at the end? Too funny.

    I fell into the trap of trying to get everything on my kids’ list last year. December 23rd I broke down and bought one of those Lego sets for my 9 y/o. It was something he’d mentioned, oh, a bazillion times, but I hadn’t gotten one. (He NEEDED and was getting a remote controlled car bought in the early morning chaos the day after Thanksgiving.) Long story short, I fork out the cash for a Star Wars Lego set and on Christmas morning, he shakes the wrapped box to check for lego sounds, tears off the paper, and gives me a groan! He wanted a Star Wars Clone Wars legos set, not Star Wars. (Well, excuse me!) This year, rather than ask what the kids wanted I delivered a lecture on gracious gift receiving!

    Now then, what I’d like:

    One get out of home improvements free card. You know, I walk into the bathroom, wiggle my nose (like Sam on Bewitched), and the vanity is installed, backsplash and tub surround are tiled, and the sink jumps out of the box, installs itself and properly produces hot and cold running water. Then I walk into the kitchen and set my nose to wiggle. . .

  3. Nancy R.

    December 22, 2010

    I would love two potty trained toddlers and a puppy who refuses to chew on anything, though I’d accept the potty training on its own.

  4. Stephanie

    December 22, 2010

    This post is making my brain short circuit.

    My husband asked me the same thing a few days ago – “What do you want?” – and it didn’t compute. My job is to make Christmas happen for my five kids, husband, widowed dad, and various siblings who live nearby or are coming home for Christmas.

    The only thing I can come up with is a day spent in my pajamas, dozing off and on in front of the tv, when company leaves. Just a few hours with no overwhelming to-do list, please.

  5. Paula

    December 22, 2010

    I will have my mother close to me on Christmas day for the first time in 15 years. She’s at my sister’s house 90 minutes away but we may go visit her for an hour or two that day. Then she will come stay at my house for a while after the new year. Did I mention she is nearly 85 years old? She will have her birthday at my house and I get a chance to bake her cake just like she did for me for so many years. At first I was a bit reluctant to have her come but now that she is here I am so happy she is.

    I could also use a few hours alone to read a book. Not any book in particular, just a book in peace and quiet while I nibble on some delicious chocolate.

  6. Caitlin

    December 22, 2010

    A full night’s sleep!! My 16-month-old still wakes up to nurse 2-3 times (and we sleep on an OLD full-sized mattress with crappy sheets… oh the lives of married students). I would love an uninterrupted night’s sleep with my husband in a very comfy king-sized bed with super-soft Egyptian cotton sheets and a down comforter. Mmmmm…

  7. Tay

    December 22, 2010

    A spa day, complete with massage and pedicure. A day where I don’t need to worry if my boys are ok or if the baby is going to need to eat soon. And a good cheesecake to top it all off.

    But I’d be content with a more heavy-duty stand mixer so I can make bread more easily.

  8. JLS

    December 22, 2010

    This year I want the most expensive gift I have ever hoped for. 12-20K. A year. In the form of increased salary with a new job for my husband. He FINALLY finished his BS degree last summer and is still working a job that pays him like he’s 18 or 19 years old (we’re into our 30’s now). What I really want is to be able to afford the expenses of our lives and not spend January filling out loan applications or welfare forms just in the hopes of being able to pull together enough money to get rent paid each month.

  9. Stacey

    December 22, 2010

    I think I already gave myself the perfect gift this year: no Christmas cards or neighbor gifts. And to Caitlin – I remember those days! I used to dream about a night by myself in a nice hotel just to sleep.

  10. cindy baldwin

    December 22, 2010

    I’m torn between:

    Never having to pack up and move again (preferably, this would mean that my husband and I were already in a great house in the state of our choice), and

    A really, really nice full-body massage.

  11. Eliana Osborn

    December 22, 2010

    I loved hearing about your perfect Christmas. Made me think of the year I got horrible gifts and realized that my parents didn’t know me at all. Of course, I wasn’t helping them along at all at 15.

    I don’t ask for things I really want–the problem of being married to the main gift giver and knowing the budget. But my secret ‘maybe he won the lottery and just didn’t tell me’ is a weekend trip with him that I don’t have to plan. It would maybe get me through the next twenty years.

    What a delightful post, thank you!

  12. handsfullmom

    December 22, 2010

    I’d love to feel completely rested every day for an entire week. That would be cool.

  13. Maralise

    December 22, 2010

    My can’t-tell-hubby wish list (because he might try to get it and that would be VERY BAD for our financial future, he’s sweet and irresponsible like that): The Frey Wille bracelet I’ve been pining for since moving to Austria 4 years ago.

    To live in Nashville instead of where we currently live.

    A matching belt to go with my boots (see! I think small too. Rarely).

    A new gold chain.

    More diamonds to finish off my eternity wedding band.

    I could go on. . . I won’t.

  14. Tiffany W.

    December 22, 2010

    A week in Greece with my husband.

  15. Rebecca

    December 22, 2010

    Hmmm… ANYTHING?

    A vehicle that seats eight with just a little less “character” than the van we are driving.

    A master bedroom set and a room to ourselves. (7-month-old is still in our room because 2-year old occupies room across the hall.)

    Draperies.

    Guitar lessons.

    An anniversary band with a princess cut diamond set in it at an angle.

    Hey–that was fun! I am generally a very practical person and grateful for what I have, but I thoroughly enjoyed that little exercise. Thanks!

  16. Tracy

    December 22, 2010

    For my 2 yr old to stop the 2 hour naptime/bedtime fight! Just GO TO SLEEP.

  17. Laurie

    December 22, 2010

    I would love it if I could be my pre-pregnancy weight and fit into my winter clothes. I don’t even really want a ton of new clothes, I love the one’s I have, but my baby is only 2 months old and I am not losing weight very quickly after this one. He is number 4, and my metabolism is showing its age. Speaking of said baby, I would also really love it if he would stay asleep for more than 5 minutes if he is not being held. I love to hold him, but he has GOT to learn to nap in a bed.

  18. Kay

    December 22, 2010

    For my 13 year old daughter to become a ‘nice’ person, and to stop being the ‘tantrum queen of the world’.

    For my husband to get a permenant job with a decent salary.

    To have no damp or mould in our house.

    Some Yankee Candles would be good too.

  19. Michelle Glauser

    December 22, 2010

    I did a whole post on impossible gifts for this Christmas, pictures included . . .

    http://michelleglauser.blogspot.com/2010/12/wishin-impossible.html

  20. jendoop

    December 22, 2010

    I want (We never say that do we sisters?):

    An “A” on the mid-term I just took.

    My husband to stop pining for a new job and let us stay put. I don’t want to move again!

    A repaired garage door opener.

    Tires on my van without the hassle of -how/when/which children do I have to take to the tire shop?

    That my heart not break when my foster son leaves next week.

  21. Marintha

    December 22, 2010

    To lay out in the desert under the stars all night in peace and quiet-alone-or with my husband. A week of it would be even better.

  22. felicity

    December 22, 2010

    A trip by myself to Sweden.

  23. ErinAnn

    December 22, 2010

    Way out there: to win at my audition in February.

    More practical, but feeling out of reach: obtain financing to pay our assessment on our condo so that we don’t have to foreclose or drain (and lose) our retirement.

    More likely: cute knit finger puppets.

  24. Kate H

    December 22, 2010

    Well as long as we’re thinking big…

    A new car, one that doesn’t need about a thousand dollars’ worth of repairs.

    Free tuition for my husband next semester.

    Really awesome health insurance.

    A fit body. I would give up a lot if my husband and I could magically lose all the weight we just can’t seem to get rid of and exercise effortlessly.

    Or for my brother to be able to go back on his mission. That would be nice too.

  25. Roberta

    December 22, 2010

    I’d like singing lessons, and cooking lessons please and new carpeting. I’d also like a thousand dollars (in hundreds) to give away randomly to a few strangers whose faces give me that ache of knowing they have great needs. I’d also like my husband’s memory to forget some things I’ve said in anger. And lastly I’d like all new appliances.

  26. Andrea R.

    December 22, 2010

    I just had a birthday filled with wonderful, thoughtful, useful, and entirely unexpected gifts. It was probably my best birthday ever, so I don’t want to sound ungrateful.

    What I would really like for Christmas is for someone to call me up and say, “I know you’ve had a rough time lately. I’d like to take your kids for the day so that you can have some time to yourself. No strings attached.” Usually when I swap babysitting with someone it’s for a doctor’s appointment, meeting, or some other emergency. When I pay the person that I swap with back, they usually go shopping, get a pedicure, or go out for lunch…it kills me a little.

  27. Shelly

    December 22, 2010

    My Christmas wish was granted last week when a phone call came letting us know my husband FINALLY landed a job after 22 months and 2 weeks, but who is counting? It was all I wanted as I am/was tired of being penniless and having to rely on others to help us out. Tired of my boys not having clothes that fit or enough money to wash/dry them, except by handwashing and hanging them over my oven to dry. That is all I wanted and now we have it. While not the best pay, it is SOMETHING to help us get back on our feet again.

    I guess I have another wish: for my husband to not do something stupid to lose this job like all the previous other ones the past 23 years. I will not endure another job loss and nor will my children.

  28. Justine

    December 22, 2010

    I really want some new scripture pencils but no one thinks I’m serious, and I apparently am incapable of getting to the store.

    And I’d like to pay off the house. But maybe buying things like scripture pencils keeps getting in the way.

  29. Melissa Y

    December 22, 2010

    I’d like a new microwave to replace our broken one so we can get the loaner off the counter.

    A new roof because I’m worried ours (with it’s curling shingles) will spring a leak.

    A covered patio in back so the window well will stop filling and flooding the basement.

    A year’s worth of food storage in my basement (and two year’s worth of toilet paper).

    A trip to Europe.

    I love the idea of money to give away–I’ve wished for that a lot too. All the other needs we have seem to get in the way of giving.

    Thanks for the fun post!

  30. FoxyJ

    December 22, 2010

    A thousand dollars to magically appear that will pay for fixing the leak in our roof. Or rather, a thousand dollars to replenish our savings after we pay a thousand to fix our roof. Yuck.

    A pedicure and a massage would be nice. So would a getaway with my husband for more than 24 hours. To somewhere warm.

    If we’re dreaming the impossible, how about mental health for all the people I know who need it and the ability for me to forgive them and/or just deal with their weaknesses. I’m still praying for that, but it’s a long, slow process.

  31. Kristin

    December 23, 2010

    The ability to freeze time so whenever I was exhausted and overwhelmed I could stop the world, take a super long nap, and then resume my responsibilities without anyone noticing or missing me.

    The stars to align so I could be in a position to have another child.

    To magically drop the weight I’ve gained this year so I could go back to my regular clothes.

    The ability to turn the fabric and elastic I bought into pajama pants for the family in the next 2 days. I’ve never tried to sew a regular item of clothing, and I hardly know how to use a sewing machine.

    A decluttered, clean, and organize house.

    And I love the idea of a stack of bills to give to those in need.

  32. Amira

    December 23, 2010

    I would like someone else to buy our tickets to Kyrgyzstan. They would figure out the best time to go, the cheapest flights, how to deal with the Fly America Act (an worthy effort, but if you’re flying to Central Asia with a family, it’s almost impossible to deal with affordably), and then book the flights for us. Booking the flight is almost worse than the 48-hour flight itself. Well, not really.

  33. Rachel

    December 23, 2010

    I would like to not have to be in charge or make decisions, just for a little while.

    And, most of all, I want our friend to be cured of his cancer. (Is that too close to world peace?)

  34. Dovie

    December 23, 2010

    I would love some inspiration to finish my Christmas shopping. Mom, Step-dad and grandparents are always so tricky. I prayed for that this morning. I would like my husband to agree to purchase a skinny fake Christmas tree so I can move my couch out of its Christmas position and back to the normal one before Christmas. Some mad energy, organizing, de-junking skills and more time before Christmas to utilize them. Co-operative children that will happily be my domestic slaves for the next 24 hours.

  35. Christine

    December 23, 2010

    Fun post! I would love a nice vacation myself

  36. Heather B

    December 23, 2010

    magically the giant piles of hardwood in the garage will clean themselves, install themselves, sand themselves, revarnish themselves, and all furniture will be away where it belongs on the new floors.

    This is my Chrsitmas wish, and probably wil be for the next four to five years as we’re installing this “stuff.”

  37. Colleen

    December 23, 2010

    I’ve had a really great year full of unexpected or long-awaited blessings, so I can’t ask for much. Funny you should mention a Christmas baby though. For her sake, I hope my little one waits at least until the day after Christmas, but I sure would appreciate it if she comes before January 1st so I can get that tax deduction!

  38. Sherry

    December 23, 2010

    I would like my 17-day-old baby to magically start sleeping through the night. I always hear stories of babies who do that without having beer or some other horrifying thing put in their bottles. I would like my baby (who is otherwise perfect in every way!) to be one of those babies.

  39. mormonhermitmom

    December 23, 2010

    I would like my hubby’s diabetes to be cured. No more insulin, no more yearly medical costs in the thousands, no more “procedures”.

    But if I can’t have that I’d love my 20’s metabolism back. Thank you.:)

  40. Ana of the Nine Kids

    December 23, 2010

    Some of these “wishes” brought tears to my eyes.

    I asked my husband the other day “What material item can I buy you that would bring you a fullness of joy?” Saying it like that made me laugh. I can never think of what I want except this year I have gotten interested in photography so there are quite a few fun things (like a speedlight) that I can think of. I would like a certain home improvement project to be taken up. Probably my greatest non-material wish item is that I can have the ability to “never let a task to be accomplished become more important than a person to be loved” like President Monson advised. That would go a long way toward meeting my children’s needs better and assuaging my guilt at night after they are all in bed.

  41. Dovie

    December 23, 2010

    Shhh… I bought a skinny fake Christmas tree after dropping off my honey at work. Moved the couch back where belongs. It was more than 100 dollars discounted, $67.20. We are both out running errands and haven’t arrived home yet.

    My children were my domestic slaves, but they were not happy about it. Still working on my gift quandaries. I have some ideas but am not ready to commit.

    That is about 50% of my Christmas wishes granted, I think I’ll call it a win.

  42. traci

    December 23, 2010

    Wow what a wonderful thot provoking and emotional! post and comments!

    I was just thinking today that Christmas is so hopeful. It’s like sometimes we have a Christmas wish. I want to give mine away to my best friend at church Charlotte – she has breast cancer.

    Each year i ask for the same gift – bird seed. This satisfies me all year. Also if family asks i mention places my DH and i like to go, where we would appreciate memberships – places we spend time together.

    My DH is very $worried – so mostly what i want is to become and stay satisfied and content, so i will not want things that make a strain.

    Come on, World peace, would be nice. 😉

  43. countryhungry

    December 23, 2010

    My shallow wishes. 25 pounds lighter and 2 sizes smaller. No kids or husband in the house for 48 hours.

  44. sunny

    December 23, 2010

    We took our kids on a train ride yesterday. Santa made his way through the train and visited with each child, asking what they wanted. I was seated near a very mature and sweet 5 year old girl. When asked, she replied that all she wanted was for everyone to have a very merry Christmas. I almost fell out of my chair. My ten year old said he wanted blueprints for a grenade launcher. Ah, does a mother’s heart good.

    If I could wish for anything material it would be a house big enough to finally spread out. If I could wish for anything intangible it would probably be the ability to see others how they wish to be seen, to look with love on another’s soul and tread carefully where I am privileged to pass. I suck at it pretty much all of the time, so it would be great to just *poof* be able to be a better person.

  45. Ana of the Nine Kids

    December 23, 2010

    In my none-eternal view point (that can’t perceive what is truly the best good in the end), I wish that I could grant all of the other wishes that people have posted here–the desperate needs as well as the “25 lb ligher ones”. 🙂 I wonder what it would be like to have a bird’s eyes view of everyone’s hopes, dreams, wishes and desires all the time? I wonder if that is some of what Joseph Smith referred to as the “weight” of eternal glory?

    Sunny, I laughed about your son’s “blue prints for a grenade launcher” wish, especially how it “did your heart good”. I wish for the same “poof” as you.

  46. Kellie

    December 24, 2010

    Ladies, you have ALL “done my heart good”!

    I’ll also admit I’ve added some of your wishes to my own wishlist – the dollars to give others, cures to all others, and blueprints to a grenade launcher 🙂

    It’s Christmas Eve here in Australia, so I wish you all a wonderful Christmas, and for SOMETHING you may have wished for to come to pass!

  47. Helen

    December 24, 2010

    My wish is probably a little like world peace. I would be happy to babysit children while you get a pedicure,teach you to sew pajamas and give you a day just to read a book. To my knowledge I don’t live close to any of you but my wish is for you all to get all the good things you wish for! Merry Merry Christmas to all!

  48. Sage

    December 24, 2010

    Kel! I loved this post and it brought tears to my eyes reading all the comments.

    The other day I took a member of our ward to buy her groceries from the ward. As I was going forward to the register the lady before me still hadn’t paid and I said something about how I wished I could pay for her groceries. Then I paid for mine and then for the lady from our ward. It made me think how I’d love to just randomly pay for people’s groceries if I had the money.

    My Christmas list included putting a bow on the new vacuum o had to buy earlier in the month.

    One gift I plan to do today is write 10 things I Love About You for each member of my family. My daughter did that for me for Mother’s day and it warms my heart every time I read it (it’s on the fridge).

    But if I could have anything:

    a perfectly organized bedroom.
    a place to fold my laundry that wasn’t either in my front room or on my bed.

    a baby (I guess toddler now, she’s 18 mos.) who could fall asleep on her own and was already weaned and potty trained.

    students to sign up for my husband’s new online animation school so we will have an income again in April before all our savings run out.

    a full-body massage…once a week for the rest of my life.

    My children to really know I love them and that God loves them, and to always stay close to both.

    And for all the wonderful women of Segullah to get their wishes!

  49. Sage

    December 24, 2010

    Oh. And Merry Christmas everyone!

    I also wish for our 20th anniversary next month we’d go on our first ever overnight alone getaway…but I know it won’t happen, so I wish to not break down and get angry like I did on our tenth when we just did our usual flowers and out to dinner when I thought we should have gone on a trip or something!

  50. Roberta

    December 24, 2010

    Sage: I’m so copying you! I’ve been trying to think of something *perfect* to put into my kids’ stockings to give the candy and oranges more meaning (ha) and your “10 Things I Love About You” is exactly perfect. Thanks!

  51. MissMel

    December 26, 2010

    I have loved reading all your posts….now that Christmas is almost over (its 11:30 pm) I wish I was Santa and could have given you all these wonderful wishes.
    Sunny, I loved your thought about treading carefully where you are privileged to pass. Thank you for the reminder.

    I would love another baby girl and a house to live in that was my own. I couldn’t read my 7-year old daughter’s Christmas list very well. I asked her, “Does this say a real horse?” She said, “No. It says a real house. I’m asking Santa just like the girl on Miracle on 34th Street.” I wish I could give her that and a sister. Inshallah.

  52. Sue

    December 31, 2010

    If I could have whatever I wanted?

    Easy. (To list, not to receive.)

    A baby for my daughter struggling with infertility.

    A wife for my son who is looking hard and seems essentially lonely despite many friends and an active social life.

    A medical school acceptance for another son who is currently interviewing.

    A financial security for my hard-working son who chose a caretaking profession despite knowing it wouldn’t be as lucrative as a business one.

    And some rest and recreation for my husband, who juggles an extremely demanding job with his calling as a bishop.

    Thankfully, I know the Lord is looking out for their best interests, but my all-too-human heart thinks these gifts would be just perfect!

    =)

  53. Kennesawga Garage Door Repair

    January 10, 2011

    I found your blog on google and read some of your other posts. we added you to the Google News Reader. Keep up the good work await reading more from you later on.

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