Dear Kids, Here's What I Wish I Could Give You This Christmas
I know you’re excited. You’ve been awake since 5:55 a.m. I have tried to ignore you playing Minecraft on the floor outside my bedroom. Thank you for not opening my door until it was light outside.
In a few moments, you’ll open your Christmas gifts. The wrapping paper will fly, a mug of hot chocolate will hit the floor, and Styrofoam peanuts will cling to the dog’s butt all day.
However, while I finally have your undivided, yet toe-tapping attention this singular moment of 2015, I have something to share with you. Quit the eye-rolls. It’s Christmas. I have the floor. I’ll be short and sweet.
I need to tell you the truth about the presents you’re about to receive. In all honesty, I wasn’t able to buy the gifts I wanted this year. I couldn’t.
I know you’ll smile and nod politely when you open that new snowboard, remote control car or electronic device. I’m grateful you’ll be magnanimous. Magnanimous means—oh forget it, I know you’re barely listening at this point. But in all seriousness, if I could, these are the things I’d give you this Christmas:
1. I’d give you a strong sense of individualism: the courage to forge new paths, speak up to right a wrong, and avoid following the crowd. The “in” group is not important. Having a clear conscience when closing your eyes at night is.
2. I’d give you a sense of wanderlust, a thirst to see different countries, and an appreciation of their cultures. I’d encourage you to toss aside laminated itineraries and experience the thrill of discovery. Don’t let stuff get in the way of experiences. Put down the devices and participate. Notice the crisp air. Breathe in the fresh pine. Be present.
3. I’d box up a lifelong supply of questions so you’d never run out. I hope you ask as many questions at ages 20, 30, 40 and 65 as you do now. And if you ever hear: “The answer to your question is, ‘Because we’ve always done it this way,'” be curious and challenge outdated traditions and thoughts.
4. I wish I could wrap up and give you the urge to always be kind, especially to each other. With the exception of your mother, no one’s got your back like a brother. No one. It’d be awkward for your mom to saunter into the locker room to stick up for you if you were getting hassled by a jerk. There’s nothing like a band of brothers for that kind of stuff and much, much more.
5. You may not understand at this age, but I want to give you the gift of serenity from living a spiritual life. I’m not talking about religion. Don’t worry about people or things you can’t change. Have faith in a higher power and embrace what you have, not what you don’t. You are not God. Sorry. You are not the center of the universe. Sorry. I’m still wrapping my head around these facts, too. But I don’t want you to think you’ve got to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You don’t. That’s why I’d give you faith if I could.
6. You’ve already been given the gift of a sense of humor. I hope you’ll be generous with your smiles, your laughter, and your hugs. Be the first to offer your hand and radiate positivity and hope. Don’t take yourself too seriously. The folks who do that are so boring.
7. I’d love to give you the desire to be a lifelong learner. Stay teachable. Accept help and keep an open mind. The world is much cooler when you can look at it from different perspectives. Being stuck sucks.
8. No matter where you are, I’ll be there for you, um, except in the boys’ locker room…although don’t put it past me. I am your rock. I am your North. I am your mom. You are incredible gifts.
Yes, now you can open that other junk under the tree.
This article was originally published on