3 min Read

Why I’m fed up with wish lists

Anyone familiar with the classic film “A Christmas Story” knows the importance of making your gift requests clear. Ralphie almost blew it, too. When it came time for the blond, bespectacled boy to sit on Santa’s knee, instead of saying he wanted a “Red Ryder Rifle BB Gun with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time,” he mumbled, “Oh, just a football.” (Spoiler alert: Ralphie gets his wish in the end. If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s required holiday viewing.)

OK, I get it. People want to give a good gift. They don’t want to add to our growing clutter with a tchotchke that will eventually find its way to Value Village. For some of us, finding the right gift can even be a source of stress, so a list is helpful. Similarly, we want to receive gifts that we’ll put to good use or that we wouldn’t mind having for the next few years.

My kids formally submit their lists to me in early December (one daughter’s might as well be a scroll). My husband even makes a list. But I barely glance at it. I know my family pretty well. I feel confident that I can find them things that they will like. I want to surprise them. When I was 14, I snooped for my Christmas gifts and found all of them (not very well hidden Mom). Then I pretended to act surprised when I opened them. It was a downer frankly.

Like most parents, I wager, my kids have been telling me things they want all year long. I keep their wishes in mind. I see things in stores that I think will be perfect for them. I either buy then, or tuck them away in my brain for gift-giving time. Then on Christmas morning, they are blown away when they open gifts that they had never even thought of.

Similarly, I want my family to put in a bit of thinking when coming up with gift ideas for me. They ask for my list, but I don’t have one. Why? Because I will like pretty much anything they choose to buy or make me. Somehow it seems like gift-giving has become all about crossing something off someone’s list, rather than taking joy and care in choosing a gift. Where’s the spontaneity, that sense of inspiration?

Well-meaning adults like to ask kids what they want for Christmas, but few are as focused as our boy Ralphie. I see their little shoulders shrug, a look of panic washes over their faces. What if you ask Santa for the wrong thing? It’s a lot of pressure to come up with a list!

I say, you don’t need a hard and fast list. You know what your kids want. Even in their letter to Santa, which is in itself a worthwhile exercise, kids can focus on what happened to them this year, rather than the stuff they’d like to get. Let’s abandon the list and teach them to expect the unexpected. Who knows, they might get a hand-made pink bunny costume from Aunt Clara (again, you’ve got to watch A Christmas Story).

Related Articles