Annually, my kids and I do a clearing practice on their rooms. We go through their stuff and decide what is no longer giving them joy. You can tell a lot about what a person really values and uses by what they no longer want a year after they got it. Last year’s “total scores” of a Wii and a Nintendo DS are both gone with no tears or sadness. The expensive, fancy easel, sits unused downstairs. Their shiny has since evaporated.
What’s on Zack’s Christmas list this year? The better Nintendo DS. What’s on Ainsley’s list this year? About $2,000 worth of stuff she’s not getting.
Last week, Ainsley was reminiscing about her very favorite Christmas ever.
Santa set her up an office. She woke up and found a note from Santa on an old TV stand that she had been pretending to play “office” on. The office had been decked out with a sign that said “Ainsley’s Office” made out of a piece of scrap wood and a leather string. There was a blinged out mini-stapler from Claire’s. There were fresh notepads and folders, crayons and pencils. There was a ruler, glue. There was a desk lamp, a bulletin board. A miniature calculator. We were quite poor at the time, and most of these items we had snagged out of the supply closets of our jobs and from people we knew—that pile of hanging files no one wants anymore, the pencil holder no one is using, the magazine rack sitting empty. Nana made the sign.
Santa’s up for a repeat this year. Ainsley’s getting another decked-out office. We split our household into two this summer. The kids bedrooms took a hit. Zack’s shelves are missing, so his toys lay in bins on the floor. Ainsley’s desk went to her dad’s and she is still as passionate about office supplies. She’s getting a new office and a $50 credit (that I scored for free on Seize the Deal!) at VistaPrint for business cards, personalized notebooks and pens.
Zack has wanted his room painted since we moved in two-and-a-half years ago: red and orange. So it’s off to IKEA I go. They’ll be spending Christmas Eve, and the weekend before, celebrating with their Dad. I will spend it building desks and shelves and painting. If I have any money left over I will buy the family a shiny red gumball machine that will bring us joy for many decades.
The sign still hangs in her room: Ainsley’s Office. She is a natural entrepreneur, making business cards and laminating them with tape, designing marketing plans, following me around thrift stores begging me to buy her the 80’s adding machine, and launching websites to sell her products.
The best gifts are not the ones the marketers tell you they will be. They aren’t the magnificently packaged toys. They aren’t even necessarily the gifts that are in the letter to Santa. The ones that last will touch on who they are. The lasting memories will come from Santa’s understanding that this girl is a businesswoman, her way of playing will lead to her fortune. Or they will come from deep desires, like, I wish my room were red and orange. I wish I had somewhere to put my toys so the dog didn’t chew up my hot wheels. They will be credits to the trampoline park with our BFFs stuffed in stockings. They are even born of dreams such as, I have always wanted to Bedazzle everything the entire world! (Lisa, buy that boy a Bedazzler!)
Merry Christmas! May your memories be lasting, may you share with your loved ones things that say, I see you. I appreciate who you are.