Building a Perfect Christmas List

Throughout my Catholic elementary school years, when placed in size order, I typically landed in the middle or towards the back of the line. Each year, I saw my place in line move further and further away from the back.  By eighth grade, I had firmly secured my spot near the front of the line.

Each Christmas, I remember asking Santa to make me taller. I even remember asking my mom why she married such a short man! For some reason, I equated being tall with power and success and confidence; qualities I did not possess growing up. I thought that if I had a few more inches of height, somehow, magically my life would be better. I’d be happy.

I sit here today at a solid 5’3 and 3/8 inches (yes, I am claiming the 3/8 of an inch!) and while there are times when I wish I was taller, I’ve learned that it is not your height that determines your level of happiness. I’ve also learned that wishing for something doesn’t make it happen.

As we come to the end of 2014, there’s much for me to be happy about. My basic needs have been met with a good job, good health, happy kids, friends and family. Compared to most, I’m blessed beyond words. And while I’d love to wake up on Christmas morning to a beautiful new silver Mercedes in my driveway, or better yet, a George Clooney look-alike at my door, I know these wishes are highly unlikely, maybe even impossible.

But if I could wish for one thing… if I could put one item on my Christmas list, it would not be for cars or jewelry or fancy clothes. It wouldn’t even be a trip to a beautiful Caribbean island or a spa day.

I would wish for the impossible. I’d wish for one hour…one hour to spend with my mom and dad. An hour to tell them about my life, listen to their wise words, feel their hugs, have them talk to my kids, but mostly to just BE with them and dwell in the preciousness of those 60 minutes.

My mom’s been gone for some time.  After she passed, I remember feeling that I’d never get over this loss. But time heals and while I am able to think of her without crying most times, I’d give anything to see her again.

While I am blessed to still have my dad with me at the ripe age of 92, because he suffers from Alzheimer’s, the dad I know and remember is slowly slipping away. This makes me sad…but sometimes, like now, it makes me mad.

Like a toddler who has a tantrum when she doesn’t get her way, I too want to pound my fists and throw myself on the floor. I want to scream out – “I want my dad back!”

Sadly, neither my tantrum, nor any other action, will make this happen. My logical self knows this. My emotional self is another story.

Just as my childhood Christmas wish to be taller was not to be, neither is this year’s wish. But if I close my eyes, I can reach back into my memories and recall the times sitting at the kitchen table with my dad working the crossword puzzle or having him remind me of the notes as I struggled to play “The Moonlight Sonata” on the piano. I can feel the touch of my mother’s hand as it made its way through my hair. I can remember our Friday night chats and the taste of her fried chicken.

In my mind, I can turn back time. I can have my mom and dad back for Christmas. I can make the impossible possible. Maybe wishes really do come true.

Jen’s Gem: Treasure the time with loved ones and create lasting memories.

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