Like most kids I used to delight in waking up at the crack of dawn to unwrap the mountain of presents under the tree. With shreds of paper covering the living room I'd run upstairs to call my friends and compare our hauls.
One Christmas, maybe when I was in high school or so, my parents asked what I wanted for Christmas. For no good reason, I felt different.
They pushed and tried to get me to suggest something, but I genuinely didn't want anything. They got me presents anyway. I appreciated the gesture and was thankful, but for some reason I went upstairs and cried for the first time in many years. It didn't seem fair that my parents, who've done so much for me, would still feel obligated to go out of their way to buy me things. All I really wanted was to spend time with my whole family at Christmas. I got that every year, and was grateful for it.
As years passed I would insist that no one get me presents, but they usually still did. One year I threatened not to open any presents, but I still got a stocking full of stuff.
Finally this year I got nothing. I woke up after everyone else opened their presents, spent the morning (ok... early afternoon) playing with my little cousins and posing for pictures taken with their brand new digital cameras. Then I ate food that Evan made for me, went and visited two of my Boston friends, and spent more time with my family at my Uncle's new house. I felt great!
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