The Only List that Matters

In the long, lazy days after Thanksgiving, the lists begin to appear. Composed by little fingers with award-winning penmanship, they are strewn upon household surfaces where the odds of catching an adult’s eye are highest.

Our oldest, Clara, is nearly 13. She is—shall we say—hip to the Christmas jive. She has transitioned into a more-mature relationship with the secular aspects of the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

For Clara, Jesus is the reason for the season. She has no list. Then again, she probably wouldn’t sneeze at an iPhone.

Ten-year-old Magdalena’s list includes a new toy ukulele. This would be a replacement for the old toy ukulele, which a certain head-of-household angrily smashed after it was used as a weapon by a Hennessey who will remain nameless.

We go through ukuleles here the way some families go through cold cuts. There’s no sense in getting attached. They won’t be around long.

Since I consider Patrick’s 2016 Christmas list a minor masterpiece of modern American consumerist culture, it is hereby reprinted in full and with original eight-year-old spelling: “ALL Harry Potter Lego sets, Mullenium falcan, snowball macker, skechbooks, poe’s x-wing, all Harry Potter books, chess set, rubix cube, all Pixar movies.”

I give my little guy full credit for putting dignity aside and just going for it. As they used to say about the lottery: you can’t win it if you ain’t in it.

Four-year-old Sally dictated her list, so the spelling choices are more conventional—and less amusing. But imagine, if you can, Dr. Seuss’s Cindy Lou Who slowly and deliberately annunciating the following inventory: “glitter, night gown, new light-up lizard, Dora Lego set, toy phone, prayer cube, pretty dress.”

Prayer cube, I ask? “That was my idea,” offers Patrick. Thanks, bud.

In the past, living things have appeared on these lists—horses, turtles, puppies, and the like. Nothing so ambitious is requested this year, but a ranking system pioneered by Clara has been adopted by the junior varsity.

Three stars next to an item indicate a strong desire for it to appear beneath the tree on the morning of December 25. Four stars signify the likelihood of sudden-onset depression should the gift fail to appear. Five stars means: I Can’t Live Without It So Don’t Ask Me To If You Want Peace At Christmas Old Man.

A child was born to our family this year. It will be William-called-Billy’s first Christmas, though of course, being just shy of five-months old, he has no list. At the top of my own list is the continued health and well-being of my beautiful boy.

I once dreamed as my children do of gifts and presents piled high beneath the tree. Now my Christmas dreams are different—as they ought to be. No one has yet been able to buy his way into Heaven. No one comes to the Father except through the Son. For a guy like me, these are tidings of comfort and joy.

When the snow begins to fall on Christmas Eve, as you and I both know it will, and as you gather with your loved ones to celebrate the miracle of Our Savior’s birth, take a moment to acknowledge that the number of Christmases we are allotted is reduced by one every year. Our days and nights are numbered.

Do not be despondent about this. Whatever you find beneath your tree on Christmas morning, the Almighty has done great things for you and me. He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man. That alone is cause for rejoicing.

From my family to yours: Merry Christmas.

From the December 2016 edition of Fairfield County Catholic.

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