Christmas lists are zipping into my in-box like spam, accompanied by hyperlinks to ensure accuracy. One list included the comment in all caps: I DO NOT FEEL ENTITLED TO THESE GIFTS AND I REALIZE I AM PRIVILEGED TO GET ANYTHING.
This is the same kid who asked for donations to the Elizabeth Glazier Pediatric AIDS Foundation two Christmases ago. This year's list includes items from environmentally and economically responsible companies... you know, green, clean and not mean to labor.
Another list specified clothes from the "other" company where the raptor logo is tattooed even on the boxer shorts. I'd bet their day laborers don't get Christmas off.
A third list read like the Sunday ad for Best Buy: gaming chair, iTunes card, CDs, Guitar Hero, Mario, earbuds for iPods.
The future fashion designer in our family asked for a dress form (and offered to pay half of it with her cookie business money seeing how expensive they are).
The oldest has not submitted a list, but careful listening over the last several weeks helped me to find what I consider the best gift under the tree. It will go unmentioned at this time as I don't want him to accidentally stumble on this blog and read it ahead.
What stands out to me this year?
No more Legos, American Girl dolls, Nerf guns, bows and arrows, board games, Rokenbok cars, knitting and sewing kits.
No more bikes, trikes and unicycles.
No more Playmobiles, foosball tables, trampolines or dress-up clothes.
We've moved all the way into technology and fashion mode around here. Clothes and electronics are about all they want any more.
I drove downtown today. I parked and walked. I went from store to store shopping, passing funky little holes in the wall selling Greek gyros or old, used and rare books. I breathed the frigid air, covered my ears with a scarf and hoofed it to the places that held the gifts my kids had requested.
It felt nice to shop on foot, to not hurry through a mall, to hold knit cotton in my hands or to thumb through a book, to smell old paper and ink. I liked the sting of cold on my nose and the way walking cheers me up.
When the kids were small, I ordered every gift by mail order catalog (in the days before the Internet especially). It saved me the trouble of traffic, parking, hauling babies in strollers, long lines and competing for toys.
Now that they're older, I wanted to touch the things I bought for them. I liked being alone and thinking about each one, holding in my hands something that I knew would be really valued (not just played with).
This is what it means to have older children. Shopping is no longer about restocking the toy cabinet. It's my chance to spend time with the accumulated knowledge I have of their tastes, needs, wants, and whims... and then to fill them the way only a mother can.
I usually hate shopping. Today, I loved my kids through shopping. It made all the difference.