I spent a couple hours this morning in enemy territory: the mall. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but I thought I would wander around to see what there was to see. I wasn't disappointed. There was lots to see. Lots and lots and lots. Rows and rows and aisles and aisles. Markdowns and door busters and colored dots and special savings in every single store.
As I went in and out of stores I was hoping to hit upon a few good gift ideas and came up with a big load of nothing. I can't say I was surprised, but I was disappointed.
I don't know exactly what my problem is. I think part of it is the fact that a mall seems to be nothing more than miles and miles of stuff, and Lord Almighty, I feel like I spend too much time as it is trying to get rid of it myself. I worry about inflicting stuff on others. Is it stuff they want? Is it stuff they need? Or is it just stuff for stuff's sake that seems to make the all-too quick and ugly transformation from stuff to clutter?
Part of my problem comes from the large twinge of annoyance I feel every December. I love the idea that we take the time to think of others. I hate the idea that we do it because the calendar tells us so, and come December 26th, we selfishly stampede like rabid lemmings back to the stores to exchange the kind thoughts and gestures for something else.
And then there is the whole idea of self-doubt. I always worry it won't be good enough, it won't be special enough, and even to my shame, it won't be expensive enough. But in the end, there is nothing, and I mean nothing that I could buy that could ever come close to representing the love, thanks, admiration and joy that so many people have brought to my life.
But this year, like every year, I'll try my best to find that a special something for all the special someones in my life. I'll worry more than I should that my gift is not a worthy messenger, but maybe this year instead of making stuff tell my friends and family how important they are to me, I'll do it myself. And when they ask me what I'd like for Christmas, maybe the answer for once will be easy. I don't want stuff. I want another year with all of them in my life.
That's the best stuff there is.