When I was little, I enjoyed making up a Christmas list and then–poof! like magic!–seeing some of those items appear under the tree. Only I knew it wasn’t magic. I nagged my mother into the weary Santa Claus confession when I was still small enough to sit in the front of a grocery cart; I still remember the smug satisfaction of being wise to all these big people that were trying to pull a fast one on me. It must have been tedious to raise me.

Little did I know that by taking away the magic of Christmas (in the Santa sense), I was taking away the magic of the Christmas wish list. With the jig being up, my mother soon resorted to taking my sister and me shopping and simply putting our selections under the tree. When I no longer lived close enough to accompany her on such trips, she chose to play it safe and only choose things she knew I used–and that’s how I began unwrapping shampoo, deodorant, and disposable razors on Christmas.

Of course, I’ve also been on the receiving end of many unbelievably generous Christmas gifts over the years, and Christmas isn’t about the gifts anyway. I know this. Anything I don’t have to buy for myself is well-received. Still, there’s just something anti-climatic about unwrapping toothpaste. It’s not something you can get excited about as you do the obligatory unwrap-and-raise for all to see. “Toothpaste! Awesome. Gotta take care of those pearly whites…”

In addition to my sister and I getting weary of the accumulating gifted bars of soap in our cupboards, the extreme practicality of our gift-giving has made selecting gifts for each other a bit joyless, too (“What do you want for Christmas?” ‘Well… I’m low on Midol’). It was time to bring back the list.

I decided the best way to get things started was to go first. The list I made was two-fold: the first portion was a compilation of “wants” ranging from the simple and affordable to the big-ticket items I didn’t seriously expect to see under the tree (but hey, it’s worth a shot). The second half of the list was full of specific drug store products I liked and the toiletries I needed to re-stock (since it’s inevitable, might as well receive products I use). I submitted my list and bit my nails. Surprisingly, I quickly received a wish list from my sister in return. I opened it and scanned it… socks, chapstick, Midol, and toothpaste. My head fell into my hand and I had to accept it: my family just wasn’t the Christmas list type.

As is tradition in my family, we all gathered ’round the tree on Christmas Eve and opened our gifts. I actually received a lot of wonderfully thoughtful gifts–a couple were even off the “dreaming big” section of my list–as well as all the razors, rubber bands, and shaving cream I could ever need in 2012. As I sat there laughing with my family under the lights as we watched my sister unwrap-and-raise her new stick of deodorant, I realized Christmas is still magical for my family. And we’re all extra squeaky-clean to boot.

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