Trying to cross off items on my impossible Christmas list


Christmas always has been and always will be my favorite time of the year.

For 364 days, I eagerly await its arrival. As Halloween fades into the distance, I try not to let Thanksgiving be forgotten, but my overpowering love for Christmas consumes my thoughts with greedy anticipation.

As sparkling, colorful decorations fill my house, accompanied by cheery music and sweet treats, I find myself falling more in love with Christmas every year.

And as Christmas grows closer, my Christmas list spills off the page. As a kid, it consisted of American Girl dolls and poofy dresses. As a middle schooler, books and fluffy blankets occupied my thoughts. But this year, my Christmas list was much different.

I watched my refrigerator fill up with my siblings’ extensive Christmas lists, full of tacky knick-knacks and sure-to-to-be-forgotten toys. I had a million things I wanted running through my mind, but when I sat down and attempted to compose my own list, my brain hit a wall.

I finally comprised a short list of the things I would usually want: books, posters, gift cards. But none of those things were on my real list.

The things I truly want for Christmas aren’t store-bought objects that I can just scribble onto a list. The things I truly want for Christmas won’t be found in a pretty package under the tree. The things I want for Christmas are nearly impossible to cross off my list. 

For Christmas, I want less stress.

I wish I could enjoy the simple moments of life, without the lingering, uncomfortable feeling that there’s more to do. I feel a physical weight pressing down on my chest whenever I think about the piles of homework waiting for me. I want my grades to stop being the sun in the solar system of my thoughts, everything else revolving constantly around them. I want to close my eyes and forget the nearly impossible goals I’ve set for myself. I want to live without stress.

For Christmas, I want to stop being scared of the future.

I’m tired of wondering. My plans and goals for the future are consistently changing. My dreams seem unachievable, so I tame them and make them easier to accomplish. I am terrified of what’s next, the part of my life where I am suddenly in charge. I don’t know what road I’m traveling along or where it ends. I wish I was okay with that. I wish I could live spontaneously. I want to stop letting my fear of the unknown impact my decisions.

For Christmas, I want to discard the negative lens through which I often see the world.

I complain. A lot. I am always picking apart every situation and focusing on all that’s wrong with it. No matter how hard I try, the glass looks half empty to me. I don’t want my happiness to be dependant on my circumstances. I make happiness my mantra, forcibly weaving it into my lifestyle. I may temporarily succeed, but soon I resort back to my old ways. I convince myself that there’s nothing wrong with pessimism. That it’s just who I am. But I want to see the silver lining on every cloud. I want to be endlessly grateful.

For Christmas, I want the ability to love everyone unconditionally.

I want love for this world and the people in it to be radiating from me. I want to be a friend to everyone. I want people to see me and know they are loved. I wish petty anger and irritation wouldn’t settle in my heart, tainting my view of my friends, family, and acquaintances. I am unable to look past people’s faults. Even if it isn’t apparent on the surface, I can harbor grudges and secret feelings. I want to let go of those ridiculous thoughts. I want to do little things that make people’s days. I want to be the epitome of love and kindness.

On Christmas morning, I will settle by the Christmas tree, surrounded by my family. We will joyfully tear through layers of wrapping paper and take turns unpacking our stockings. For a blissful moment, I will have forgotten my secret and impossible Christmas list. The crackling fire and twinkling lights will illuminate the room. Every gift I get will bring a smile to my face.

But as Christmas steps back and the dreary promise of a never-ending winter sets in, my real Christmas list will remain untouched.

Because there is only one person who can give me the gifts I most desire. Not Santa. Not my grandparents. Not my best friend.

The only person who can grant the wishes on that list is me. And I have to work for it.

To lower my stress levels, I need to lower my self-expectations. I need to be okay with imperfection. I will never be stress-free because I live in an imperfect world. But by giving myself a smidge of grace, my stress will begin to fade.

To stop being scared of my future, I need to trust that I will eventually reach my end destination. The path I take there is always changing, and without trust, I will always be terrified of it. I need to embrace the thrill of mystery.

To discard my negative lens, I need to focus on the simple things. I can’t make happiness a lifestyle when my happiness comes from rare, grand, monumental events. So I need to celebrate the beauty of life’s simplicities and find my happiness in the mundane.

To love everyone unconditionally, I need to first love myself unconditionally. I have to stop focusing on all the things I will never be and rather on the spectacular parts of who I am. I need to learn to highlight and strengthen the already wonderful things about myself.

It’s all easier said than done. I won’t receive these gifts right away. It will take time and a lot of it. But someday, I will be able to wrap these gifts up and place them under my own mental Christmas tree. And I will watch with insurmountable joy as I finally receive everything on my no-longer-impossible Christmas list.