Now that we’re less than a week away from Christmas it’s nearly
time to begin shopping
– at least if you’re like me. For years, I made a Christmas Eve
spending frenzy a seasonal tradition.
Now that we’re less than a week away from Christmas it’s nearly time to begin shopping – at least if you’re like me. For years, I made a Christmas Eve spending frenzy a seasonal tradition.
But as we get older, most of us seem to shorten our own lists to Santa. There’s less to want, and many of the things we really want are not, as they say, available in stores. What about those things that even Santa couldn’t provide? Those might be the most revealing Christmas lists of all. I’d like to think we’d all top our lists with the altruistic mega-wishes: world peace and an end to suffering. But down at the bottom of those dream lists would be some items that might reveal a lot about their authors. With six days to go, here’s my list.
I’ve worn glasses since sixth grade, when my English teacher, Mr. Leonard, noticed that I squinted at the blackboard quite a bit. Since then, I greet a blurry world each morning when I rise. I can’t even remember a time when I could see unassisted, yet I still miss it. I’m thankful for the miracle of glasses and contact lenses. I’d just like to see the way one of our daughters does. She’s blessed with better-than-20/20 vision, and I’d gladly trade my index fingers for it.
This one’s kind of like eyesight. Those who have it cannot understand what it’s like not to. I know what I want to draw, but it can’t make its way from my brain, all the way down my arm, and onto a pad of paper. I might need to hang onto my index fingers if I’m ever going to make any progress with this one.
I’m grateful for the way air travel has shrunk the boundaries of the globe, but I have always longed to take a jump and take off for a little flight. I still dream about it – no I don’t care to know what that reveals about my subconscious – and it’s always wonderful. This one is certainly the most far-fetched of the lot, but we’re in the realm of Christmas magic, so why not?
Manners in government
This may be the most far-fetched of all. I recall a time not so long ago, when local politics was practiced with more restraint and better manners. People still disagreed – often vigorously – but they limited the discussion to ideas and eschewed personal attacks. Now the dialogue popularized by the likes of Rush Limbaugh prevails.
Given the current common practice of going to any lengths to skewer an opponent himself, rather than his or her ideas, we’re certain to see even fewer candidates with intelligence and character and fewer citizens participating in the process.
That’s about it. Wouldn’t want to ask for too much, you know. Further, many of the things I would have put on a list had I thought of them in time have already been bestowed upon me. And that’s another list:
It arrived again a week ago. I enjoy the sunshine the way I enjoy candy, but the rain sustains us. We live in a desert. Rain transforms our beautiful landscape as only it can.
So far, mine’s treating me pretty well. Our brains are amazing instruments, and memory is one of the most intriguing. Not only are we (usually) able to retrieve just what we need from those endless files, but our memories can entertain and sustain us during difficult times. Memory tends to blunt past pains and sharpen past enjoyments, truly a wonderful gift.
The memory that’s been sustaining me for the last few days is one of three bobcats, posing together just a few feet off a local road as traffic shot by. These small cats may be the ones that gave felines their reputation for curiosity, because whenever I encounter them, they seem as interested in me as I am them.
Family and friends
We are all members of at least one tribe. It’s among family that we begin our lives and among family that the fortunate among us end them. We relish our memories more for the opportunity to share them with those we love. They are a gift none of us has to ask for.
An awareness of beauty
Our sense of beauty differs, but it’s the innate ability to hear a sound, or see something, and be deeply stirred that we all share. For me it might be birdsong and the iridescence of feathers. You might find it in fine art, but we share the emotion.
Unlike my first list, this one could go on and on, limited only by your flagging interest and the constraints of newspaper space. That brings me to two gifts I received this year for which I am deeply thankful. The first came from the publisher of The Pinnacle, who gave me the opportunity to write about nature and the environment – things that are fundamental to us all – each week. The last gift is you, your attention and the kind words I receive from so many of you.
Mark Paxton lives in Hollister and works in Morgan Hill. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected]