As I come up on the last five days of the only year I’ll ever be 61, I always spend a little time taking inventory of what I’ve received and what I still feel I need on this day after Christmas.
As for the tangible, what I got still is in the boxes scattered about the house. For me, when it comes to the “gift-y” part of Christmas, it seems the older I get, the less enthused I seem to be about that aspect of this time of year.
Truth be told, thanks to circumstances in my life that have as much to do with luck and the kindnesses of others than anything I’ve done to earn it, I don’t lack for much, and if there’s something I feel I really need, I can buy it on my own.
So, I really don’t need folks buying me anything. I’d much rather be the buyer of stuff than the receiver, I guess. That’s especially true when it comes to my daughters, Shannon and Katie. Every year during the run-up to Christmas, I kind of feel sorry for them and constantly stress they are under no obligation to give me anything, other than their undying devotion and admiration.
But they’ll have none of that, as the season must be served. So, every year, I’ll get calls from my lovelies — both of whom live in the Columbus area — with the same dreaded question: “Dad, what do you want for Christmas?”
Last month, it was Shannon, who texted me and asked that very question. Her query — knowing my opposition to either her or sissy buying me anything — probably was one she didn’t look forward to asking.
In the succinct fashion of texting, here was the rest of our exchange:
Me: “Pair of navy pants, 36-31, Sweetie.”
Shannon: “Dad, you ask for that every year. Let’s shake it up a bit.”
Me: “Pair of gray pants, 36-31, Hon.”
Shannon: “Oh, jeez, OK, I’ll get you some pants!”
I don’t know. I just think as we age, it’s just so much easier to be benefactor than recipient. There just seems to be a whole lot less pressure.
It seems to me what I need the most as I grow older are the things that are intangible, which leads me to a story.
About a week ago, while in Dayton on Mid-American Cleaning business, I was in Chipotle, waiting in line. In front of me were two late-teen couples. I walked in behind them and immediately took note of the scraping of what were bedroom slippers on the feet of both girls. I’ve always found people who don’t pick up their feet annoying.
And, don’t even get me started on what I think about the big fluffy slippers being used as footwear beyond the front door of where they live.
One of the girls had on pajama bottoms and a hoodie, while the other had on sweatpants, worn in hip-hop half-mast fashion with Joe Boxers underneath along with her hoodie. Each had piercings in their lips and nostrils and each also sported tattoos — one on the neck and the other, to my amazement, arcing the inner part of her ear, from top to lobe. Hmm, I thought.
As for their young men, both had shoulder-length hair and earrings — one, the kind that create those huge holes in the ear lobes. They each had on hoodies as well to go with exceedingly baggy pants that dragged the floor below boots with laces dragging the ground. Taking in the sum total of their appearance, I added an extra m to my hmmm.
As the line crept up, I kept looking at the four, eavesdropping a bit as they nuzzled up against each other and engaged in their small talk. My interior monologue continued to be of the disapproving “tsk-tsk-tsk” variety. No harm in being tacitly judgmental, right?
When we got up to the register, they with their burritos and I with my chicken bowl, each of the boys paid, and when they spotted a jar soliciting donations for hurricane relief, each stuffed the bills they received back in change into the jar.
I guess their generosity made me feel a bit guilty about my disapproval.
You might call it an epiphany of sorts, that these young folks really weren’t all that different than what I was when I was following the trends of the late ’60s and early ’70s, at least as many as I could follow without having an unpleasant conversation with my father. In their case, what made them look silly to me made them look special to each other.
What I’m hoping Santa may have left me as I go about my daily paces is something we all need replenished as age, and it can be summed up in a single word.