Growing up we made lists. We’d wait for the JC Penny and Sears Christmas catalogs to arrive with a feeling of anticipation only a Gen Xer can truly appreciate. When those 10 lb. bundles of wishes arrived it was magical. We’d grab a pencil and a legal pad and get to work. I’d roll through several versions before finally whittling the list down to those things that I desperately wanted and felt comfortable submitting to the powers that be. I’d always chuckle softly inside when I’d see my sister’s lists. They’d have 45 things on there. I’d think to myself, “you simpletons, interest rates are like 20%, there’s no way you’re getting all that stuff.” My list would be narrowed down to 10-12 specific items. If you wanted Santa, and later your folks, to get it right you needed give them clear and unambiguous instructions. Because nobody wanted to end up with this:
If you wanted Chopper Command for your Atari 2600, you needed to spell it out. Now, as I’ve become older, it has come to my attention that there are some folks who don’t appreciate getting lists. If fact, they will ignore the list. These individuals will go and buy something that they think you’ll like despite having an actual list of things they know you’ll like.
This makes no sense. Like Bernie Sanders’ view of economics. Or casting Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker.
It’s not that I view it as disrespectful or dismissive of all the work I, or someone else, may have put into building the list. I simply do not understand why anyone would intentionally choose to make their own life harder by ignoring the list. And make no mistake, that’s what you’re doing. You might church it all up by convincing yourself that you’ve thought about it and have really come up a sincerely heartfelt and profoundly meaningful gift. But you’d be almost always wrong.
Sure I get a benefit from you choosing something from my own Christmas list. I put it together therefore I obviously have a fairly high level of affinity for everything that made the final cut to get on the list. But the real beneficiary is you. The real advantage is the simplicity for you the buyer. The time saved. The hassles eluded. The avoidance of that awkward realization that the gift you gave someone has become a garage rag or been returned for store credit. Why in the name of all that is holly and jolly would someone purposefully choose to add needless decisions to a time of year that is already overrun with extra stuff?
Especially when you were given a list! A Christmas list is a yuletide map to joyous merriment. Literally the only decisions you have to make, outside of how much beer you’re going to drink during the period of time when everyone else is still shopping, is which store to visit first and whether or not you should pity laugh at all the holiday shoppers without lists to guide them. Do you really think the three Wise Men showed up at the stable in Bethlehem with gold, frankincense, and myrrh because they had spent most of the summer and fall contemplating the perfect baby gifts for Mary and Joseph? They are dudes. And dudes need a Christmas list to go shopping or they will always – ALWAYS – come back with a six-pack, a gift card and a t-shirt with the logo of their favorite NFL team. Because they want you to be happy while you’re watching the playoffs drinking the six pack. To remedy that, the Angel Gabriel showed up one night and gave the three Wise Men Jesus’ Christmas list. Scholars still debate why Jesus chose those things. But its in the Bible so who are we to question it. So if you still want to be one of those people who ignores the biblical foundations of Christmas lists whilst deriding the gift choices of the three Wise Men, go ahead, but don’t expect me to follow along. The Angel Gabriel and I will be at the mall with our lists shopping for gifts…