I won Christmas. But not in the same way I usually win Christmas, which I usually measured statistically with measurable metrics like “most gifts” and “cost of gifts” and “percentage of list.” But not this year. This year, I measured it in here (pointing to my heart) and up here (pointing to my head).
We live in a material world and I try my best to fit into that world, worrying about (a) me, (b) myself, and (c) what other people think of me. I typically want other people to base their judgments on the things I have and the money they believe that I have. For most of my life, this worked out just fine. I walked around picturing everyone jealous of me.
Then, I approached 40 years old, then I turned 40, and then I went zipping right into my “40s” (the decade, not the beer bottles) and it all changed. I started to realize, nobody cares, Don. Nobody thinks about you and envies you as much as you hope they do. They have lives and families and concerns of their own.
I had to shift my entire world view. And with that came new (and probably healthier) perspective. Which brings me to my Christmas list.
My sister has laughed quite a bit about my Christmas wish-list. Everything on it was practical and boring (to the outside world). Usually my list is filled with items that make the outside world think I’m doing all sorts of awesome things …like dressing in high fashion and expensive clothes, or exercising and being awesome, or into expensive hobbies because I’m soooooo upper middle class. Not this year. My list, in a nutshell was (a) keep my feet warm, (b) help me sleep, (c) replace something I had and used up, and (d) drink – in style.
Guess what? When you ask for things, and get things, that enrich the lives of those around you, it’s actually way better.
My new world view is shifting to, if I get this, I can make Person(s) A happy by __________.
I got waterproof Bogs (slip on shoes) rated to 20 degrees below zero for walking the dog or for quick chores outside. This makes my life better by walking more. Makes my dog’s life better by walking more. Makes my wife’s life better because I don’t track dirt and mud into the house. Yes. I have running shoes. But on a 35 degree rainy day when the neighborhood is all puddles and wet grass, having these quick slip-ons is brilliant.
I got warm, boot high socks. I didn’t even know I wanted them, but my wife did, and they are cozy and warm and when it gets really cold (which I’m sure is coming soon), my feet will be warm (while walking that damn dog the kids wanted so badly …do you see them walking the dog? 10-9-8-7-6 …OK …I’m better).
I got a “#1 Dad” wallet, which means all my hard work in 2014 elevated me from “All American” to #1. Woo hoo! It’s probably because I bought this particular daughter a dog, come to think of it.
I got Bedphones. Hey. I have trouble staying asleep. I was trying to fix it by (a) reading in bed whenever I woke up (which meant a 1/2 hour or more of wakefulness in the middle of the night). Or (b) I tried heading downstairs and sleeping in front of the TV, which meant bad sleep in the glow of a TV (that’s horrible). I (c) tried getting up and making lists (of the things I was worrying about). That didn’t help. But I found the best idea was to have a few (boring) audio books ready on my iPhone. When I wake, I quickly pop in the headphones, set the sleep timer for 30 minutes, and then try like hell to stay awake and listen. But when the book is something like the epic “John Quincy Adams” biography and it’s detailing the letters he received from his mother about how to dress in public …trust me …it’s a cure of insomnia. Sorry, history buffs …it was interesting, but not that interesting. Ear buds hurt my ear canals, so I read about these Bedphones wish are soft and lay gently against my ears, but not in my ears, and I can sleep on my side or back and I can’t really even tell I have earphones on.
And lastly, I got a new sea salt block for grilling and cooking (which I love and love doing it for my family and I love when my wife says, wow, this tastes so good), and my Secret Santa at work got me a growler (32 ounce beer bottle) which I can get filled at local breweries. I’m not a “craft beer” guy, and rarely will I pick up a bottle of micro brew, but the style and flair of bringing a growler into a brewery and having them fill it up …OK …so this was the one gift that still screamed, “look at me …I do cool things. Envy me.” The growler is cool.
Can this non-selfish, and non-ego gratifying outlook on gift-receiving last into the rest of my life? Not sure. But for now, getting things that improve my life and improve the lives of those around me …it feels pretty good.
What if I really adopted the motto …help others in order to help yourself. That sounds like a pretty good resolution. And I’ll hope, maybe, somebody reads this blog entry and doesn’t see it as self adulation, but maybe they say, hey, me too.
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