We’ve decided not to do Christmas gifts this year. Mom and Dad (especially Dad) have been lobbying for this for years. But, as the youngest, it wasn’t until I finally suggested it, that it could really work. As the baby of the family, I fully acknowledge that this family has been keeping Christmas alive for me for a long time, but I’m all grown up now…well, kind of.
After a semester in divinity school studying religion and theology and rubbing elbows with all manner of people who’ve done incredible and humbling social justice work both at home and abroad, I was left cash poor (thanks tuition!) and life rich. Not only can I absolutely not afford to buy my family lovely gifts, but I’ve had some time to examine my life and I’ve realized there is nothing I really need. Sure, there are things I want (a Wushtof knife set, a new pair of boots), but the only thing I really want is for my sister to come home after 6 months on a building project in Africa (finally!) and for my grandparents (who aren’t getting any younger) to make it safely to Pennsylvania to spend the holidays with us.
I don’t want to spend Christmas morning getting annoyed that people aren’t moving to the tree fast enough (Dad has a habit of deciding to clean out like…the entire coffee maker right when we finally decide to sit down and open presents.) And I don’t want to be disappointed that I didn’t get what I wanted, or that it’s in the wrong color or the wrong size. I want to wake up on Christmas and have nothing to do except enjoy the company of the people I have to love—but actually really like a lot, too.
That being said, I did ask for ONE thing this holiday season, without which it will not feel like Christmas to me. And that is…a tin of three-flavor popcorn! I love that crap in a way that is embarrassing to admit. (Don’t judge me, or at least do so quietly.) And if we’re being honest I have to confess: I love the cheese flavor. I like the caramel. And I tolerate the existence of the butter section. Mom and I were looking online for some the other day and we stumbled upon a website where you could build your own bucket o’ popcorn. Granted, we decided we weren’t going to buy it online because it cost a ridiculous $39.99 before shipping and handling, but even as I considered creating my dream mix—80% cheese, 20% caramel corn—I just couldn’t do it. There’s some great lesson in that Christmas colored bucket—life’s full of cheese days and caramel days, but there are some pretty lame butter ones, too. But if you could engineer it to be all cheese, would you? I wouldn’t.
To my utter surprise and disgraceful glee, when I arrived home this weekend for a quick visit and break from papers and exams, Mom had already purchased my only present—and she let me open it early! Ever the savvy shopper, she bought it at Staples for a cool $5.99. (Who knew our friendly neighborhood office supply store carried popcorn?!) Trouble is, it’s only been open for about 3 hours, and the cheese popcorn is about to make it onto the endangered species list. Maybe, if I’m really good, I’ll find another one under the tree.