Taylor: The only thing on my Christmas list

If I don’t want things anymore, does that mean that, for all intents and purposes, I cease to exist?

My wife and I have reached that stage in life where we don’t have Christmas lists anymore.

Our daughter and grandchildren find this lack quite frustrating. “There must be something you want!” they chorus. It’s almost as if giving things is the only way of expressing love.

In a consumer culture, Rene Descartes might have said, “I want, therefore I am.”

And its corollary, “I can give, therefore I am loving.”

If I don’t want things anymore, does that mean that, for all intents and purposes, I cease to exist?

Of course, it’s not true that I don’t want things anymore. I want an Aston Martin. I want a Windows program that doesn’t crash. I want a pre-paid ticket to anywhere, anytime, with medical coverage included. At my age, medical insurance matters more than unlimited drinks.

But I also know I don’t need those things. I can get along just fine without them.

The things I really want, no one can give me anyway. Health. Peace on Earth. Goodwill to all.

It seems to me that there are two stages to life, acquisition and relinquishment. The transition comes when you hear yourself saying, “I don’t want…” instead of “I want…” or “I need…”

Our younger years are all about acquiring. A job. A car. A house (and mortgage). A spouse. A family. Friends. In-laws. A professional reputation. A pension plan, or equivalent savings.

The status quo isn’t good enough. We need more.

And then we pass the point of acquiring. We start getting rid of things. Like jobs. And responsibilities we never enjoyed anyway. We start spending down those savings. We clear our closets of clothes we’re never going to wear again. We cut back to one car.

We need less.

OK, I accept that there are people who don’t have enough. Enough food. Or warm clothing. Or loyal friends. I’m not suggesting that it’s good for their souls to do without.

But I’m not them.

What I need now is undying friendships. Timeless relationships. Not things. Not even experiences.

It’s not that my wife and I don’t appreciate gifts. We do. We appreciate the thought that went into them, the care that went into their selection. But the gift itself is more likely to evoke the unspoken thought—what the hell are we going to do with this?

When my father was still alive, and well into the relinquishment phase of his life, I gave him a Christmas sweater—creamy wool, with red and green snowflakes knitted into the pattern. He said thank you. He actually wore it the next Christmas.

I inherited that sweater after he died. I couldn’t wear it. I gave it to the church’s Thrift Shop. I realized how much devotion it required for him to pretend that the gift mattered.

It didn’t. It was the thought that mattered.

In hindsight, I wish I had found it easier to let him know, “I love you. You are important to me. You make a huge difference in my life…”

So the only thing on my Christmas list this year is a wish—that I learn to say those things to the people who are still with me.

 

Just Posted

The new event will allow kids to take part in Across the Lake Swim

A new free event just for kids will leave their hearts and… Continue reading

UPDATE: Kelowna stabbing victim tight lipped about incident

Police say 35-year-old North Okanagan man stabbed in Mission area Sunday won’t talk to investigators

Pumps run dry across the Central Okanagan

Kelowna, Peachland and West Kelowna all reporting gas shortages

UPDATE: Suspect sought in car theft

Stolen vehicle flees scene in Ashton Creek, found behind Polson Park in Vernon

Updated: Kelowna cops investigate armed robbery at city centre business

Robbery sparks late afternoon manhunt by armed police officers with guns drawn

Homeless people living on ‘Surrey Strip’ move into modular housing

BC Housing says 160 homeless people are being moved into temporary Whalley suites from June 19 to 21

BC Ferries posts strong earnings before rate cuts

Last year highest ever for vehicle traffic, most walk-ons in 20 years

More than 150 tremors hit Vancouver Island in last 24 hours

Seismologists monitor to see if pressure will be added to major fault

Snapchat used to make mass shooting threat in Kamloops

RCMP did not dub the threat a hoax, instead called it “unsubstantiated”

Amphitheatre planned for Kamloops area winery

Monte Creek Ranch Winery can finally proceed with amphitheatre plans

B.C. groups file response to government’s fight against solitary confinement

B.C. Supreme Court judge suspended ruling for one year to give government time to draft legislation

National sports organizations have to report allegations of abuse immediately

Sporting organizations will lose federal funding if abuse goes unreported, says Kirsty Duncan

BC conservation officers release badger from wolf trap

Badger recovering after being caught in trap near Williams Lake

B.C. Christian school mulls covenant, future of law school after court ruling

The university still wants to open a law school, but is looking at its options.

Most Read