Talking Point 9:
A beyond Christmas wish list….
This is a photograph of Matthew’s Christmas list. From 2008, back when he was eight years old. I found it in a drawer the other day. It laid there gathering dust as he got on with the milestone moments of his life so far; pedalling across Europe, sleeping in the wild on scout camp, joining a brass band, sitting exams, leaving primary school and getting on a bus every day to a secondary school that is bigger than our village.
At the time, I probably sighed when I saw this list. How was Santa going to source ‘a light up squigey and squashy horrid hanging bat super air-powered bow and slime snotty’? (What is a slime snotty?) Did Toys r Us stock a ‘sweet poo pooing reindeer’ and did I even want that in the house?
When did they stop writing lists?
Now I sigh for another reason. Somewhere along the line my kids stopped writing lists to Santa. And I was too preoccupied to notice. I asked Matthew what he wanted for Christmas this morning and he told me an i-Phone or some cash would be fine.
What I undoubtedly saw back then when I looked at this list was a page of demands, and a reminder to source the latest must have toys. What I now see is a scribbled remainder of his childhood, an untidy yet unfettered slice of his imagination. His list wasn’t fuelled by adverts (we still don’t own a TV) but by a desire to BE Horrid Henry and play some tricks on his own Perfect Peter.
His wish list was unconstrained by brand awareness and unhampered by reality, and he was quietly confident that the elves and Santa could deliver the stuff of his imagination. (Although I’m not sure Santa ever did – I have no memory of sweet reindeer poo-poos in the hoover or slime snotty in the beds.)
Why don’t adults write a Christmas wish list?
I think we should all write a Christmas list. Not a shopping list, filled with goods from the high street, but a blue sky wish list, that catalogues our dreams. That prioritises what we really want and numbers them from 1-10. That taps into our imaginations and allows us to be Horrid Henry if we want to be.
Maybe it would make us all question whether we want what the adverts tell us we want, or whether we want something else. Perhaps a slime snotty is the route to happiness? Or maybe it’s something different? Perhaps if we had a list of what we really, really wanted; we’d move towards getting it. Not relying on Santa, but sourcing it for ourselves.
I have a secret list…
What would be on my list? Off the top of my head, I’d say two electric bikes and a trustworthy babysitter so Stuart and I can bike Cumbria’s Fred Whitton Challenge together. The time and money to allow the whole family to do the Mongol Rally or volunteer in Africa. A condensation free house so the windows don’t rot again. A gigantic box of lime and chilli chocolates. A place in a convent so I can go off and write the book that I never get around to writing. And David Beckham.
Have your kids stopped writing Christmas Lists? Do you miss that ritual of Christmas? What would be on your blue sky Christmas wish list?
Join the conversation
Talking Point is our series of short Photo Friday posts. Each week we pick a photo, post a talking point and invite you to join the conversation. Do leave a comment with your thoughts.