“Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.” — Sylvia Plath
When I was a kid and my mother would ask me what I wanted for Christmas I should have said:
- I want my family to stay together
- I want a solid dream I can aspire to
- I want real friends who will last a lifetime
But instead I said I wanted a toy train, a Walkman, some Andy Kapp hot fries, or some other whim of the moment that I lost interest in rather quickly, or that broke because I didn’t treat it well, or that I ate up and it disappeared. I didn’t wish for the intangibles because they are intangible, and for a kid it’s all about TANGIBLE. I mean, can I touch it? Can I squeeze it? Can I look at it? I wanted something in my hands because to me that was real, not the things I took for granted. I realized as I got older that my values seriously had to change, that I couldn’t keep taking things for granted because there would be nothing REAL left to hang my hat on.
Now I see my kids being the same way, and I’m working on making sure they appreciate the real things in life instead of what’s on the surface. When the toy catalog came out Alexa decided she was going to go through it and circle all the toys she wanted Santa to bring her. She showed it to me after relinquishing the magic marker, and I realized that most of the items were circled. If she did get all of them from Santa some kids in a town with a population of 1000 in rural Idaho would get absolutely nothing as the tradeoff. When I told her this, about inequity, she seemed to understand, but that didn’t stop her from wanting EVERYTHING.
So I’m trying to teach her, to teach both of my children, about wanting nothing, about appreciating whatever you get, even if you get nothing material, because not everyone is fortunate enough to get new things. Not everyone is blessed enough to get even one of their wishes fulfilled. That’s the kind of world we live in. But she has two parents who love her, who are there for her, and who spend time with her, three amazing gifts that aren’t able to be exchanged, and that not every kid has. I would know. And as much as I hope she never has to be without any of them, I want her to understand that she shouldn’t take them for granted, that anything could happen at any time, and that appreciating what you have and wanting for nothing else is priceless.