Every year, a few days before Thanksgiving, I ask my children for their Christmas lists. Over the years these lists sure have changed. Some days I long for the lists that contained items like Puzzles, Power Rangers, Candy Land, candy. Those were the lists I could complete with $100 and two hours of wrapping, leaving 20 presents under the tree.
This year, I am looking for Monster High dolls, which can only be described as Gothic Barbies, Godzilla figures, color refills for a hair-streaking machine, video games, expensive sneakers and coats, both brand-name items that both begin with the letter "N", and I wish I could pencil in my own "N" next to them on the list.
Yes, gone are the 20 items for $100 per person. Gone are the little ones in their feetie pj's with their sleepy eyes, gone are the hours of assembling toys after they've been ripped open, gone are the Lego's, the coloring books, the crayons. Here are the younger two in their pj's with their excited faces, bursting with anxiety for the big one, still sporting the sleepy eye look, in his pj bottoms or sweats to wake up and join them under the tree. Here are the $60 video games, the $80 sneakers, the $20 Barbies with their ripped fishnets and boldly-colored miniskirts and scuffed black combat boots, the Godzilla toys and movies. Gone are the little red velvet dress and sweater vests and khakis. Here are the jeans and graphic tees. Gone are the ponytails, here are the feathers and streaks in her hair.
But as they come over and hug me and kiss me, thanking me for their gifts, I will be the thankful one. Thankful that I had the Lego and Candy Land years, thankful that I got to dress them up for a little while, thankful that even though they don't have the little faces anymore, they still hug and kiss me and tell me they love me, and that is a gift that bears no price tag.