My adult Christmas wish list

As a kid, writing my list to Santa was one of my favourite holiday memories. I spent weeks thoughtfully researching my list, based on playground gossip, ads that appeared between segments of Saved By The Bell and Goosebumps and the weekly Toys ‘R Us flyer.

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My Dad and brothers in the midst of a wrapping paper tornado on Christmas morning.

On Christmas morning, there was a smattering of presents around the tree and I almost always found my entire wish list wrapped in colourful paper – and then some. Our tree was beautifully decorated, there was family around and plenty of food to eat – I didn’t realize it at the time, but we were luckier than most.

I distinctly remember one Christmas at my Uncle Jerry’s place; I was excited my grandparents bought me a Nano Baby so I could “practice” my babysitting skills. I glanced over at my Uncle and was horrified by his pile – tea towels, kitchen utensils and lame grown-up stuff.

Sensing my eyes on him (and noticing the scowl on my face), he said “wait ‘til you get older kiddo – these sort of presents will make you excited, too.”

I couldn’t imagine ever being thrilled about something as ridiculous as a matching tea towel set – there were just too many other cool things I wanted like new clothes and gadgets and a TV for my room and the latest shoes. Those were the important things.

Fast forward 15 or so years and, thankfully, I’ve changed my tune. (Yes, you were right, Uncle J).

In fact, I had a really hard time giving my fiancé ideas this year. There really isn’t anything I need – or want – for that matter. I have more clothes and shoes than I know what to do with; we can afford to pay our rent and still save a little; we have a fully stocked fridge and we live in a beautiful city. We’re healthy, happy and if anything, still spoiled by many people’s standards.

It got me thinking… if I could make a list of all of the things I wanted whether they were attainable or not, what would it look like?

So, behold, my first official adult Christmas list. (Bear in mind, I don’t have kids, so you’ll notice an absence of “a weekend away from parenting” type inclusions below.)

  • Health

I plan to be around for another 50 or so years and will do my part to eat well and exercise, but I know sometimes that’s not enough. So, if I could have a guarantee my health would be as pristine as it is now, I’ll take two please.

  • Family & friends

My family and friends are amazing, even through we drive each other mental sometimes. Still, I don’t know what I’d do without them so please keep them around for the next several decades as well.

  • A year month without bills.

I completely took for granted not having to pay bills as a kid – I had no idea my parents made monthly mortgage, hydro, food, water, electricity and insurance payments. And this doesn’t even touch activities or savings. Life is expensive and I wouldn’t mind a month off… or two. If you’re really feeling generous, a year would be spectacular.

  • Magical restocking fridge

Life is expensive (see above). Plus, going to the grocery store is about as much fun as getting a leg wax. How awesome would it be to have a fridge that restocked itself?  If it could also throw a few bottles of Pinot in there every so often, I’d be in heaven.

  • More time

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s found themselves out somewhere or on holiday or just sitting with someone and wishing to hold onto the moment a bit longer. So, I’ve added having more time for the things that are important – and the ability to hang onto those moments – as a wish list item.

  • A weekend of adolescent-inspired sleep

As a teenager, I could sleep through an earthquake. Now, if someone in the apartment three floors above me rolls over in their bed, I’m jolted awake – and stay that way for hours. Just for a weekend, I’d love to sleep in late without being woken up by something six floors up four times a night.

  • White Christmas

Call me a hopeless romantic, but there’s something so beautiful about waking up on Christmas morning to freshly fallen snow…. Except when it covers your doors and windows. So, if someone could arrange for a snow fall overnight on December 24 that’s not too excessive, and then melts before we have to drive in it, I’d be a satisfied customer.

So, there you have it Stu. I’m not entirely sure how you wrap some of those, but perhaps when you find out where to get them, the place will offer a gift wrapping service.

What’s on your wish list that money can’t buy?

 

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My high school journal: A trip down memory lane I’d like to forget

I recently saw a great tweet on Twitter: Keep a journal. You’ll never regret getting older if you can go back and check how stupid you used to be.

Last weekend, I found out firsthand how true this is.

I came across one of my old writing journals from grade 12 when I was cleaning out a drawer and was captivated – and slightly humiliated – by the content. Was I actually this naïve? Did I actually think some of the things I bitched about were problems?

Some of them were too naïve, too ridiculous, too 18-year-old-poptart not to share. So, here’s a small selection of the things that either were a pet peeve of mine or were things I thought were significant enough to complain about:

  • My stomache growling in a quiet class – it was sooooo embarrassing (Are the five “o’s” really necessary?)
  • My favourite pen running out
  • Being 150 pounds (Uhhh, this is about how much my right leg weighs now.)
  • Paying $10 to go tanning but only tanning on my face
  • When chocolate bars made me eat them
  • That people didn’t consider synchronized skating a sport (in the space of four months I kept this journal, I wrote about this seven times. SEVEN.)
  • People pointing to their wrist when they wanted the time
  • The word “swab” and “scab” (by the way, they’re still gross words.)
  • When girls wore, and this is a direct quote, “lime green, electric blue or violet eye shadow along with savage foundation, skating blush, eye liner and mascara layered so thick their eyelashes resemble spiders and then insist they don’t wear a lot of make up”.
  • Wanting to be held and (insert highschool flavour of the week’s name) is nowhere to be found
  • Finding a prom dress for only $400 (Me now: ONLY? That would feed and intoxicate you for a month.)

Other entry topics included getting pissed with my best friend because she went for coffee with someone she said she “didn’t like very much” (four pages of teenage angst on this one), taking my friends to get piercings and tattoos over our lunch hour and “savage parties”, which seemed to be happening every other weekend. Apparently “savage” was the modern day “like”. Oy vey.

So, essentially, I’ve come to the conclusion that I was a self-centered, partying, pretentious, attention-seeking brat who was obnoxious externally yet completely self-conscious. I’m sure some might argue I haven’t changed all that much.

For the friends who were foolish enough to stay in contact with me through these formidable teenage years and beyond: in the name of all that is holy…. what the heck were you thinking? Your hero medals are in the mail.

Recess: the ultimate time to strategize

This week is the second week of March Break for many kids here in BC. Yes, you read that correctly. March break here is more of an extended holiday than a five-day hiatus from classes.

And to think years ago, I just wanted to be grown up.

Today’s daily trigger from Triggering Memories got me thinking about school and inspired me to revisit a time during the school day where the most important conversations took place: recess.

In the spring and fall, it was spent playing endless games of Red Rover, mastering the impossibly hard double-Dutch skipping game and playing man hunt on the playground. Those who came back to the classroom with gravel embedded in their palms from falling during an intense game of hide and seek were looked upon as playground heroes. 

In the winter, recess meant building snowmen, catching snowflakes on our tongues and going down the slide at turbo speed because the slippery snow added extra horsepower.

If we were feeling brave enough, or perhaps just stupid enough, we’d stick our tongues to the soccer goal post to see if they would stick. On the days it didn’t, I was internally happy although I’d never say so to my friends. Half the fun was trying to figure out a way to get it unstuck without losing a few layers of skin. (We, like most fearless kids, did this more than once.)

Our playground at elementary school was massive and was rotated between several grades, depending on the day of the week. When it wasn’t our turn, we made use of the soccer fields, picnic tables, and baseball diamond, even if we were just playing imaginary ball. Homeruns were scored and grand slams were achieved that would have rivaled any Major League Baseball game – or so we believed.

On the days it was our turn to use the playground, we went down the slide with such speed, we could have flown across the entire school yard. We embraced our inner monkeys and scaled back and forth across the metal bars until our palms bled from the blisters. When we couldn’t make it across anymore, we looped our feet through the bars and hung upside down until all the blood rushed to our cheeks and we were forced to sit up again.

Recesses were also a time to strategize with friends: which boy looked the cutest today? Whose house were we going to sleepover at this weekend? What did we have for lunch?

For most of us, our problems were non-existent outside of what we were going to wear to school that morning and whether Mom and Dad would let us stay out just a little bit later tonight playing with friends. We were naïve and innocent enough to think everyone had it as good as we did all the while not truly understanding just how fortunate we were. 

When I got to grade eight, I couldn’t wait to get to high school – at 14-years-old, recesses seemed juvenile. Something for little kids who still believed in Santa Clause and still had the benefit of youthful ignorance.

Recesses became cliquey and awkward for those whose intellect outgrew the pace of their friends, whose physical appearance made them stand out for one reason or another and whose wardrobes wore loved by someone else before they donned them.

For these kids, the 15-minute breaks started to drag on instead of flying by like they once had.
There were always a group of kids who had an opinion and, with the support of their friends standing behind them, would make comments to try and solidify their place in the playground hierarchy.

Oftentimes, the sub-zero temperatures were a warm comfort to the outliers next to the cold shoulder of their opinionated classmates.

While the school yard dynamics could be as unpredictable as the weather in the suburbs of Ontario, recess holds fond memories for my inner double-Dutching, hop-skotching, monkey bar-scaling playground star.