Friday, December 7, 2007

Presence Rather than Presents

I’m thinking today about what I want for Christmas. The question causes anxiety because as a retiree, I am discovering that despite all the catalogues and flyers piled on my table, with such an overabundance of exotic and lovely gifts, I feel no stir of excitement.

The excitement that once so clearly defined the Holiday Season is still understood, expected, and a given right, but not so easily found, so easily wrapped, and so easily exchanged as it once was in the form of chocolates, a plush robe, or bath oil.

But even so, I think somewhere that joy resides. Perhaps I have to dig a bit deeper. Perhaps it is being smothered by bittersweet longings for youth and past festive celebrations. Whatever the case, I am determined to resurrect it—regardless of how cause and concept are altered by maturity.

So, for openers, the first dominant theory is that as a retiree I have slipped from the practical-reality side of life to the impractical-reflective side. So rather than putting up my tree, I want to write a beautiful poem about Christmas. Rather than tidying up the house, I want to reminisce about childhood. Rather than baking, I want to lounge in my chair and revel in the staggering musical lyrics of “O Holy Night” and “The Little Drummer Boy.”

And rather than finding the perfect outfit for Christmas, I want to find a perfect new phrase that represents my appreciation for life. And rather than a mess of paper packages to stimulate the warm satisfaction of an increase, I want a post-Xmas increase in original notions, warm hugs, sweet truths, and simple delightful stories that I can stash without rearranging cabinets and drawers. I don’t want to have to toss precious old things to make room for new. And there is little hope of finding Christmas joy through space cleansing and the ultimate painful abomination of guilt I am liable to feel for my part in contributing to global warming.

So, wouldn’t it be pleasant to find on my hearth on Christmas Day an abundant menagerie of conversation, loving affection and most of all, the unanticipated ‘presence’ rather than ‘presents’ of a dear one so far away?

The gifts I desire uncannily fill a genuine need. I see them as generous gifts, as transports of delight, gloriously wrapped in the scent of love and ribbons of devotion without the inconvenience of sticky tape that won’t stick and weak paper that so easily tears. Gifts that blossom open without a cutter to reveal contents that dazzle the soul and provide function for the body and festive décor for the mind.

Yet, even at that, some of my tribe are still bustling about the shops, wincing and sighing. Still on the hunt. And if asked, they would say I am difficult to choose a gift for and impossible to please.


Anne said...

My word! I would think it quite easy to choose a gift for you. I simply wouldn't look in the usual places.

Happy Holidays Roberta!

Pauline said...

Perhaps you can start a tradition of letter writing, telling then that's all you want from them in the way of a gift. It's something tangible so they can feel they've "given" something and you've "received" something. The year I had no money for presents, I gave each of my children a love letter and they have them still.

joared said...

I especially like the thoughts you describe here creating such visual images in my mind with your words. I do agree with what you say.

Perhaps we should create a tradition of original handwritten love letters for Christmas, or birthdays as I've sometimes done.

Roberta S said...

anne, I'm purty sure I would love any wispy gift you were to give me. I am certainly pleased with the gift of that comment.

Roberta S said...

pauline, I know my bunch would love the letter idea. But still, the men in the family would be disappointed if I didn't include peanut brittle, homemade fudge, cookies, and a bit of rhubarb jam.

Roberta S said...

joared, you and pauline have expressed a similar idea and I think it a great plan. Thanks to both of you for the 'thinking of you' comments and the pleasantries those comment-notes gave me to think about.

Joy Des Jardins said...

I LOVE the letter idea Roberta...and how perfect for someone who can so beautifully express herself that way. I think the perfect gift would of your homemade wonders along with some of your beautiful words....both to savor.

Roberta S said...

joy, so nice to see you. I think most of what I write is utter foolishness but the kids must think it is okay cause they have always been supportive. So I'm going to stash this thought in my Xmas Craft bag for future reference. I know I certainly get joy for my day out of the lovely, lighthearted poems that you often write.