I used to do this thing when I was younger and wanted something in the so bad it hurts kind of way. Instead of demanding we pull over at the next Toys R’ Us from the third row of our minivan, I would slowly and (what I thought was subtly) drop hints: Have you ever seen the commercial for that doll you put water in? They say it feels like a real baby…I wonder what it would be like to play with that doll. I think all of my friends have that doll… Or at the mall I would longingly stare into the pet shop window while my mom walked ahead: I sure wish these puppies didn’t have to be all smooshed in this window. It looks pretty easy to take one home. I think we have a basket in the car…
Now let’s be clear: I could definitely throw a solid tantrum over any American Girl doll accessory and I may have climbed all the way under the Christmas tree one year to make sure Santa hadn’t placed the jacket I asked for way back in Narnia but passive annoyance and slow growing guilt were really more my strong suits. I think these tend to be the tools of children who are both ultra sensitive and have a severe steak of people-pleasing behaviors.
When I look back on it now, I wish I had raised a little more hell over the things I wanted. I know my demands would have been met with a firm “not gonna happen” most of the time but I would have been more educated on my self and how to express my deepest seven-year-old desires without feeling shame or fear.
We spend this time of year wearing invisible ear muffs when children (and sometimes full grown adults) start rattling off everything they want for Christmas. As I type there are approximately three trillion blog posts going up about how to instill effective gift giving practices in our homes. And thanks to these stay-at-home moms with internet access, we will become very skilled in the way of having enough. I kid but of course I know this is a good, good thing and that these are the people who should be raising our child instead of me, the woman who will bring home all the puppies.
But I also believe that asking for what we want is just as important a practice. When we say what we’re looking for we get to see parts of our selves that we may have been hiding for a long, long time. We also get to mull over the real possibility of these hopes, since they’re out in the open and not just running laps in our psyche, and have the chance to figure out what they will look like outside of our selves.
Demand can be damaging just as walking out with a cart full of things we didn’t go in to Target for isn’t always helpful. But not taking the time to voice or even acknowledge our personal wish lists can create just as much pain. This would probably be the only situation where linking a video to “My Grown Up Christmas List” would be considered appropriate but I’m going to spare you and leave you with the equally brilliant Lillian Daniel instead:
“Don’t forget world peace,” he added. “And a cure for all diseases. Be sure to name them all, with their appropriate Latin names, so God knows exactly what your instructions are, because we wouldn’t want hangnails to be eliminated before cancer. But yes, there’s a lot to cover before you can ask for a cottage.” That kind of thinking, that reluctance to ask God for what we really want, is arrogance posing as humility. It seems humble to not ask God for our own desires, and to put other larger matters first. But doing that seems to imply we have power in all this. As if by asking God to cure diabetes before asking for a raise, we might actually affect God’s priorities. Do we honestly think that if no one asked for anything trivial, and everyone got focused on world peace, God would finally see that we had reached some quota and say, “Right, now that four billion and one people have asked for it, I will make it happen. But don’t anybody ask for a cottage by a lake right now, or I’ll get distracted.”
And I really can’t not do this.