As a kid, I can remember putting together my Christmas list every year that would fill an entire piece of lined paper, front and back. The list would have countless things on it, ranging from hockey skates to I-pods to snowboard goggles. And even though I knew that Santa couldn't possibly bring all the gifts on my list, I would still ask anyways.
I think we're all guilty of this, the excessive desire for material "things" because for some unusual reason, it makes us feel like the more we have, the happier we'll be. Society today is built upon feeding the consumer appetite for more. We tend associate bigger, better and an abundance of material assets with contentment and satisfaction. Christmas these days seems to be the biggest feeder of this appetite as children compile their absurdly large lists with the expectation of receiving things they want.
I ask you to take a second to think about your favorite Christmas memory. Perhaps it was being surprised by your entire family at the airport with signs and flowers to welcome you home for the holidays. Maybe it was a ruthless wrestling match at the tree farm because you and your sibling couldn't agree on the perfect one. Maybe it was your dad falling off the roof while assembling the lights, or your mum falling off the ladder trying to put the star on the very top branch. Was it laughing hysterically as your pet accidentally knocked over the Christmas tree, or sticking your tongue to the chairlift pole? Perhaps it was a home-cooked dinner while surrounded by the people you love and cherish most or watching your puppy play in the snow for the first time.
Maybe your favorite memory doesn't fall on this list above, but while you're thinking about the moments that you'll take with you forever, I ask you to think about what these memories consist of. Are they things you can put on a list? Are they moments you can put a price tag on? I can't recall the presents or the amount of things Santa delivered, but I do remember the millions of moments in between that were filled with laughter, happiness, family, and friends.
My parents used to tell my brother and me that the only thing they wanted for Christmas was "for you two to be happy and healthy," and that the "best present is having you both home and spending time as a family." I never really understood this logic as a kid, and couldn't figure out why they weren't filling in the lined paper of things they wanted Santa to deliver. Today, I realize that the were teaching my brother and me the inverse proportion ratio. To define this term in the realm of Christmas, it's the ratio that means as your age increases, your list decreases. As one goes up, the other goes down.
I think as we grow up, we start to look at the world through a different lens. We start to appreciate the little things more, we value quality over quantity, and we discover that the best things in life are free. If you look at your life right now, what do you need? Don't mistake wanting something for needing something. Because if you really think about it, I bet you come up empty handed or with very few actual needs. It's not about acquiring material assets, its about collecting memories, moments and experiences that you can take with you wherever you go.
So this year, I encourage you to shorten your list, stay off your phones and simply be with the people around you. Because I promise the memories you make with them will far exceed any present you receive.
If you were to ask me what I wanted for Christmas, I would tell you two simple things:
1. Being surrounded by my family and those I love most during the holidays.
2. For the health and wellbeing of the people in my life.
Every year, my brother and I get the same speech from my parents. My mum always says, "I would rather give you experiences that last a lifetime than give you something that will only last temporarily," and my dad compliments this with, "the only thing I want Christmas morning is a coffee, mums famous bacon and eggs and a dinner table tonight with our family gathered around."
So while I count my blessings twice with these wise words and invaluable lessons, I hope we all can appreciate the meaning of Christmas that lies within the spirit of sharing memories and moments with those you love. Be thoughtful in giving, be humble in receiving, and share the spirit of Christmas through the happiness you radiate, the laughter you create, and the love you spread. May your holidays be filled with experiences and memories that last a lifetime. And remember, the best things in life aren't things at all.