A Christmas Wish
As the Christmas season approached many people made wish lists and asked for wish lists from their loved ones.
I always find it difficult to make these lists. I don’t really need or want anything. My house is full of things I don’t use and items that have not been touched in a very long time.
The Embarrassment of Riches
Over the past year I have been making an effort to get rid of things I no longer use. After our basement flooded twice last year I came to realize how much stuff we had accumulated over the past twelve years. Most of this stuff is no longer used or needed. For one reason or another we just found it difficult to part with these items.
It’s easy to toss something in a closet and say “I may need that later” or so-and-so gave that to me, I can’t possibly part with it.
Purge – 2014
Using Craigslist, I managed to give away or sell cheaply old sports equipment and excess computer items in 2013. As “Purge 2014” winds up I will exhaust the list of “stuff” and move into the closets and boxes of sentimental value.
I find that my capacity to attach sentimental value to items is not fixed over time. After our second flood, I was ready to empty most of the basement, including undamaged and useful items. After moving furniture twice in two months I saw little value in heavy objects. They were just pains in the lower back. There was a rage and anger in me that only a dumpster could contain.
Let the Sun shine!
Often, I find it difficult to toss a sheet of paper or old book. I become pack man and find a place for all items great and small. One strategy I came up with to deal with these sentimental surges was to identify things that I could get rid of. These are things I’m not sure why I’m keeping but just can’t stuff into the plastic bag. It’s irrational, it’s emotional.
I’ll fill a box or make a stack of these items. Sometimes the “could go” pile is small, sometimes it fills the garage. For the time being, these items are safe.
When the sentimental surge recedes I ask my wife or kids if they still want these items. If they second my opinion, I put the items on Craigslist or in the trash.
What to do at Holiday time?
So, with a house full of more than I need, what could I possibly want for Christmas? I always have craft beer, brewing supplies and running items on my list. All things I enjoy and will use.
I think the greatest gift, besides love, is time. I know it’s highly impractical and impossible to wrap. How do you box up time? Where do you find time? The problem with time is that it’s always short and everyone runs out of it far too quickly. Unlike time, love can be made.
I always feel great joy when I have time. I feel joy on the first morning of vacation, or a long weekend or holiday. I feel great joy taking a random day off from work. These days are like pulling onto the highway with a full tank of gas, cash in my wallet and no particular place to go. Just drive. In these moments I am free. These moments are gold.
How do you put that on a Christmas list? My mother sent an email and asked what I wanted for Christmas. I almost wrote back “time”. Really. That’s all I really want. She has already given me a wealth of her time in the way only a parent can.
We can find ways to give ourselves time
There is no way to give another person “time”. We can spend time with someone but we cannot give them an additional day in their life. We cannot add an hour to their day.
We can give ourselves time. We can take our vacation days instead of letting them evaporate into the cold New Year’s Eve air. We can find things in our lives that take up time and that may not be worth our time any longer.
We can give ourselves time by spending less time on the couch with the remote, less time reading things out of habit. I am a news and information addict. In 2013 I cut back on my Sunday news shows so that I would have more time on Sunday to write blog posts and run. I also stopped reading two fantastic magazines that ended up in a pile instead of being read. They were dense and well written, but I did not have the time for them. When I did dig into them I often spent a Sunday just reading them.
I record my news programs on DVR and watch them while I do other things around the house. The shows don’t require my focused attention and I can do simple things like clean up the house and exercise.
This year I am rolling over a lot of vacation days. I know I am lucky to be able to do this. But that means I robbed myself of time. I could have used that time with my family or to pursue a hobby or learn something new.
My Christmas Wish
In 2014 I plan to use my vacation time. I have a boat load of it since I am rolling over so
much. I have many hobbies and interests that I do not have time for in my normal daily routine. I plan to pursue these hobbies in 2014 and do things.
My Christmas wish is that I can change my ways and take my time.
Merry Christmas. Live well my friends.