With the food-filled daze of Thanksgiving finally clearing away and the first snowfalls of winter, people are embarking on the Christmas season this year with fervor. This is one of the most exciting — if stressful — parts of the year, with visions of carols, evergreens, twinkle lights, and presents. Malls are teeming with friends and family shopping for their loved ones, and Amazon will be swamped for the next few weeks.
My circle of friends are doing Secret Santa, which is a fun activity to spruce up a simple gift-giving. Everyone put their names on a slip of paper, and then we all individually drew out a random person from a hat. However, to make it a bit easier for the shopper, we decided to list three things we wanted beforehand and consolidate all of them on a master sheet labeled with our names. However, my mind was shockingly blank when I stared at my lined piece of paper, pencil in hand, ready to spell out some of the things I thought I wanted. I had the sensation of grappling empty air or trying to build something out of dust.
I ventured deeper into myself, taking inventory of all the items I lacked, channeling the more materialistic part of myself. Clothes? No, I already had an abundance of them from Black Friday. Electronics? No, too expensive, and I had no need of more anyways. Stationary? Books? Still, my brain remained a complete tabula rasa. There was no spark of excitement or desire no matter how hard I mulled it over; every potential idea left me with a leaden, indifferent feeling in my stomach. It almost felt like repulsion.
What do I want? Immediately, a dozen answers came to the forefront of my mind, but they were all intangible and unable to be bought.
I consulted other people’s wish lists, and then I scoured the internet seeking anything that I even minutely wanted. Needless to say, the search was fruitless. At last, I shut my laptop and asked myself the one question that I, surprisingly, hadn’t confronted yet: What do I want? Immediately, a dozen answers came to the forefront of my mind, but they were all intangible and unable to be bought.
This year was a rocky one for me, as it seemed to be for everyone. Now that I’m in the last month, I feel the burden of all these previous months bearing down on me all at once. I’ve always questioned why my parents always give a noncommittal, vague response whenever I ask them what they want. On the other hand, children possess a mental stock of the things that they want and will always think of more. These days, I am made of stress and fatigue. These days, I wear my life like a timeworn sweater full of memories, however young I truly am.
I realized that the reason why I can’t find anything that I want is because I’m finally crossing the threshold from child to adult, a moment I both dreaded and anticipated. As I continue making the same journey around the sun as I did last year, the things that I used to crave are worth less than the things that are supposed to come naturally.
I wanted to sate my heart, not to quench my greediness.
Moreover, I realized that what I desired so ardently were the most basic, essential factors of life which I was in dire need of: I wanted inner peace, I wanted to feel connected with those I felt apart from, I wanted to feel rested and ready to face the world for once, I wanted alone time, I wanted a single perfect day, and I wanted what nobody could wrap in cellophane. I wanted to sate my heart, not to quench my greediness. Once that knowledge dawned on me, I experienced an odd mixture of relief and sadness, as I felt that I was finally boxing away my animated younger self and becoming a more solemn person.
However, Christmas isn’t just receiving gifts. Christmas involves about bonding with those you love and about giving, too. Although I might not experience the same delight as I used to whenever I unwrap a present, I will feel the love of the person who gave it to me, and I will gladly return it by giving them something too. I accepted that I was maturing, but that didn’t mean I had to find any less joy in this holiday. With that in mind, I scribbled down a chaste wish list of my own, knowing that though it wouldn’t bring me true happiness, at least it would be sincere.
Photo by Anthony Tran