I was listening to some radio blurb where they asked a little girl what she wanted for Christmas. She said, “A stuffed animal.” She said Santa could choose what kind. When asked if she wanted anything else, she added, “Chapstick.”
With all the ads and shopping frenzy it occurred to me that it’s easy to ignore the actual requests of children — and adults. Despite the elaborate Barbie houses and race car sets and “i” everything and “e” readers and bright lights and touch screens, sometimes it’s the simple things that matter. Now I’m not perfect. There have been times when I’ve over indulged my children and there have been times when my children were sorely disappointed, but here’s a list of some of the simple things that brought joy:
1. Goggles. One year when my daughter was little all she asked for was goggles. I guess Santa went to Home Depot, because a $2 pair of plastic work goggles appeared on Christmas morning and the girl was ecstatic.
2. Stuffed Animal. My kid was just like the girl on the radio, except she was older, maybe eleven years old, right on the edge of the electronic appetite. But she has always loved to cuddle with soft stuffed things. Still does, even in her advancing teen years. The stuffed bunny she received that year “lives” in her room and she takes it with her on sleepovers and visits with her dad.
3. Nothing. Babies are simple creatures. They like to look at bright lights. When they are older they play with boxes. Except for maybe purchasing something they may have needed anyway (a new teether or sleepers), babies don’t need anything for Christmas except someone to show them the pretty lights and sing to them. Sometimes I would ball up pieces of wrapping paper and toss it to the babies (under supervision of course, can’t let the little angels eat paper) and the babies would be occupied trying to pick up the strange, shiny ball.
4. Etch-a-Sketch. Low-tech. Gender-neutral. Hours of fun. Needs no insurance. When it breaks (and it will) it will have served its purpose and you can replace it, or not.
5. Coupon for Playing a Video Game with My Son. Okay, so this one hurt a bit. But it cost me nothing, except for maybe a couple of Tylenol. I’m not a gamer. I do a lot of activities with my kids, but gaming, at least the warfare type, has never been my cup of tea. But one Christmas I gave him a coupon promising an hour of video game time with me. I broke it up in two segments. It was horrible. I’m horrible. I tried to do my best, but I shot at the ground, repeatedly. He took great joy in this. But bonus? He doesn’t ask me to play anymore. On occasion I’ll him ask if I can play and I get the response,
“No, Mom, no.”
6. A lock box. This wasn’t for my kids, it was for another relative. He was twenty something and had mentioned in passing that he always wanted a safe. I think he was recently out of college at the time and literally had nothing of value to protect, but I guess he had some personal items, because when he opened that fireproof lockbox safe ($19.99) he laughed broadly and exclaimed,
“I always wanted one of these!” At six feet five inches tall, he was like a big little kid.
“Thank you!” He continued to smile as he examined his box with the same look of joy and amazement he used to have when opening a new Lego set.
I don’t want to know what he keeps in that box.
Just Me With . . . thoughts on keeping it simple.
There have been others, but I’m trying to keep this simple, and short.