For the girl who has everything . . .


The wishlist.

When I was a kid, coming up with gift ideas was no. big. deal. Give me a slice of paper, a pencil, the Sear’s catalog and boom: my sister and I had finely-tuned lists of everything our little toy-loving hearts could want. And if the Sears catalog with toys wasn’t available? We’d just watch TV, then parrot back every commercial we saw.

Commercials work, guys. Don’t ever forget it.

As I’ve gotten older, the wishlist has fallen away. I’ll attribute this to:

A) age. Because Polly Pockets aren’t as alluring as they used to be.
B) a paycheck — as in, I receive one. Having my own money has definitely impacted the wants I’d stack on a Christmas list.

I’m fortunate to be able to purchase what I need — save, you know, a brand new car or a house or something. Day to day, I don’t need much. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, clean clothes on my back. I have a good job. I have my column. I have family and wonderful boyfriend and friends and readers. When I wake up, I feel a sense of purpose. Even at dark moments, life holds enormous appeal.

So what would I want for Christmas?

I’m struggling. Really struggling. Spencer has asked me multiple times for a wishlist, a catalog of modern-day desires — but the things I really want can’t be purchased. Full-time work for my sister? A clean bill of health for relatives? A lucrative publishing deal? To magically drop 40 pounds overnight?

PresentMy lists usually look the same: a dress or two; some shoes; a few books and movies. Maybe a cool scarf I saw. Some makeup I like but wouldn’t buy for myself. A favorite perfume that sits three-quarters empty, saved for special occasions. If I’m feeling really crazy, a new lens for my camera.

Many men like to buy practical presents. I can’t hand Spence a list of clothes and expect him to feel satisfied with that purchase. And anyway, what size should he get? What color? What if it’s too long? Too short? Being the sweet (and delusional!) guy that he is, Spence always . . . well, he sizes down, friends. He thinks I’m thinner than I actually am, which leads to angst when I have to admit I need a size (or three) larger.


So, the quandary. The things guys like to buy — gadgets, appliances, software — are superfluous. I don’t need them and don’t want them to waste their money. I actually thought of breaking down and asking for an e-reader for Christmas — a cheap Kindle or something — but have decided to just stick to physical books for the moment. (That’s a post in itself.) Other than that? Nothing.

I’m stuck! Stuck! Totally stumped! I realize this “problem” is no problem whatsoever, not in the grand scheme of things (and life, and the world), but we’re drawing closer to the big day — and I know everyone wants to finish their shopping soon. I’m almost done . . . just a few more items to order online. And then I will wrap and drink hot chocolate and congratulate myself on another successful season.


If Spence gets too stressed, I guess I’ll just hand my non-existent list over to Santa. I hear he has “gift” for choosing just the right thing.


What’s on your wishlist this year? Are you going for practical items or fun ones? Choosing not to exchange gifts this year, or scaling back? Have any ideas for a curly-haired bookworm to pass along to her guy? Hit me with ’em.

27 thoughts on “For the girl who has everything . . .

  1. wish i could help…but i don’t even have anything specific on my wishlist either :/ i don’t really need or want anything that badly.

    the only thing i asked for was general nail polish/makeup (for a secret santa exchange). i figured that’s something that can’t be messed up lol.

    i think a kindle would be perfect for you, since you love books! and yes, i love physical books too, but i’ve discovered a few awesome indie authors through amazon because of it. and i’ve been able to rent digital books through my local library with it.

    whatever you get for christmas, i’m sure you’ll enjoy it! πŸ™‚


  2. Really happy every year about this time that we don’t exchange and finally all my loved ones get that I don’t do this holiday. When I see an item that someone I love should have, I get it for them. No matter the month or the lack of a holiday. I can remember a friend saying one time as I gave her a little love gift, “It’s not my birthday!” Then I told her I wouldn’t get her anything for Holidays cuz i forget when birthdays are until it is the day of and that my love comes when it flows not when the calendar deems it appropriate. It’s worked for over twenty years and it is a huge relief every autumn when the stores crank this Santa routine into high gear.


  3. I’ve got my Christmas shopping mostly done, but like you, I struggle to come up with ideas when family asks what I’d like. Since I’m always travelling for the holidays, I usually end up asking for gift cards for Chapters, which I can use throughout the year for books and e-books.


  4. I have the same issue. I used to be infamous in my family for sending long, detailed Christmas wish lists, but now I never know what to put down, because most of my wish list items (books, movies) are things I can easily buy myself – and I usually do.

    So I started asking for activities – contributions in any amount towards a photography class or a dance class or a trip to a concert. Think of something you and Spencer can do together and ask him to do the same. Those types of gifts mean more (it’s a day or afternoon you remember more than some thing) and it’s something you can do together.


  5. My grandma and aunt do the same thing. I’m grateful (cause I love gifts, duh!), but it’s hard when sometimes I feel too blessed, like I have too much.

    I’m not gonna tell you to ask for a donation to a cause (although that’s a really good idea). What I did this year was try to think more outside the box. I asked for subscriptions to my favorite journals and magazines (The Sun, Image, North American Review). That way I feel more justified in receiving gifts. They’re edifying! It’s money in other writers’ pockets! And I’ll keep them a very long time!

    Hope this gives you some ideas πŸ™‚


  6. I’m in the same place you are – I don’t need or want much these days. I guess my wish list consists of cologne, new Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech garden flags and maybe a charm for my bracelet. Carl has never had success buying me clothes Sometimes I think I want a new lens for my camera but I can never decide which I’d use more – a zoom lens or a wide angle lens. I do love it when someone does something for me as a gift, like detailing my car.


  7. You are absolutely right–it’s no problem at all. Your sentiment simply reflects an acceptance of your place and your direction in life. Moreover it indicates that you have a good sense of what is truly important.
    …that said, books–traditional or ebooks–are excellent gifts!


  8. What about an experience with your boyfriend? My husband and I decided not to get each other gifts this year, but we are going to the local Nutcracker ballet and the next weekend to a dinner theater production of White Christmas. We would rather have those experiences together than another physical item to clutter up the house. Is there some concert or sporting event or the like that you two could enjoy together? Make that your gift!


  9. This year I’m buying people fun gifts.
    But with my honey Mr. Whimsy we tend to keep it practical and I give him a pretty specific list.
    It kills the surprise but it makes it easier for him.

    I have an idea!
    Make a wish list/montage on Etsy.


  10. I never have a big wishlist either, but I usually have a few books I’ve had my eye on. Honestly, my favorite thing to get is a little bit of cash to put towards my next big trip!


  11. Meg – I was going to suggest that same as Julie. My husband and I have been together for eight and a half years (married two) and just don’t get into the whole gift exchange thing anymore. What we really want to do is spend time together. For our first married Christmas, we went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. Best. Present. Ever. As a traveler, I imagine this would be right up your alley; of course, trips and experiences sometimes have a hefty price tag. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas no matter what’s under the tree!


  12. I’m really jealous that you’re nearly done with your shopping, we’ve barely even started and I hate to just buy everything online. Most of my AND my husband’s Christmas presents will be money towards a big tv for the family room in our new house. For my birthday, though, I mostly asked for gift cards to specific clothes stores so I could get some new stuff because all I really needed was some new clothing.


  13. I’ve books on my wishlist, but my sometimes-reader boyfriend doesn’t want to get me any of the things I usually ask for (books, music, etc) so it’s made it difficult. I like the things that you really want, and wish it were easier for you to get them, especially the job for your sister. Sometimes the whole get-me-whatever idea works, and you end up with something really great.


  14. You just gave me something to add to my wishlist – an old school Sears catalog! I had forgotten how much I loved looking through that thing. I used to invent families (using the models in the catalog) and give them a life, complete with everything you could find in the catalog: lampposts for their front yard, two couches (a fancy one for their living room, and a big comfy one for their playroom), clothing, pots and pans, and of course, the creme de la creme: toys for the kids. That was (embarrassingly?) one of my favorite activities as a kid – thanks for reminding me!


  15. I always struggle with the list. I’ve got a new pair of tennis shoes on there (actually bought them myself – ha!), new software for my Mac, some gift cards. The best gifts are the ones my husband comes up with out of the blue. He is so good at that. A massage at the Ritz. A full customized array of Clinique stuff. Bookshelves! Clothes, shoes (usually the right size). He does it all, and it is always a surprise. God love him.


  16. I totally hear ya! But I have to say, if you do not already have an e-reader, definitely ask for a nook! πŸ™‚ But otherwise I also agree with the above poster about doing an experience. Jason and I have done that some years instead and enjoyed it just as much if not more than exchanging gifts!


  17. A fun week end away together doing something you have never done before…concert tickets…cooking school…cross country skiing…oh me oh my…a kindle paper white, an IPad…I am quite certain I am no help at all!


  18. For the last few years, my husband and I haven’t exchanged Christmas gifts. Instead, we’ve put the money we would have spent on gifts towards our annual anniversary vacation. And, so we’d have something to open at Christmas, we’ve done stockings full of small, fun, inexpensive things.

    However, this year my husband has brought up the idea of giving each other gifts again. It’s all because he recently got himself a Kobo ereader and loves it so much he wants to get me one for Christmas. But I’m like you, I kind of want to stick with physical books for now.

    Plus, if we do Christmas gifts, I’m going to have to find something for him. And if I’m hard to buy for, he is IMPOSSIBLE. Sigh.

    Anyway, my actual Christmas list (for family and whatnot) is pretty much everything from the website plus clothing, books, and coffee gift cards. Coming up with a grown up list is hard.


  19. I’m in the same position this year Meg! I feel like I have everything I want and need, so I just made a list of stuff that I wouldn’tmind to have for my husband. One thing I did find, that you may also enjoy, if you don’t already have one, is a yarn bowl! You have to get on Etsy and check them out. They are very cute and I’m told by knitters and crocheters that have them that they love them. I am so excited to get mine!


  20. Ohhh, the Sears Wishbook–such fond memories here, too. Ant actually bought a vintage Sears catalog (1976) at a flea market and we love it!

    In the last few years, I’ve finally gotten on board with wish lists–my family and Ant complained loud enough and I gave in! My problem is that I always find stuff I want AFTER Christmas. πŸ™‚

    This year I made a list with 16(!!!) things on it ranging from a battery grip for my camera to a bread maker. I felt greedy and vaguely uncomfortable with such a long list, but I have enough slippers, candles, and mittens.


  21. So I wrote a wordy response about my list and giving up the guilt of making one…and WordPress ate it. 😦

    This year I put together a list of 16 things, ranging from a battery grip for my camera to a bread maker, and will be happy with anything. Ant and my family got tired of me picking 2 or 3 things–they always fought over them. I honestly prefer hunting down ‘the perfect gift’ for my family and friends to receiving. I’m a terrible gift receiver! 😦


  22. one of my friend’s family decided they were all in the same boat so each year they pick a theme, like shiny or furry or blue, and everyone buys a small gifts that could go to anyone. each person draws a number on opening order. if you get 1 you get first pick from the wrapped pile. #2 gets second pick and can keep what they open or swap for #1’s. it becomes a shared event for fun, creativity and time together.


  23. Since things are pretty tight this year, we actually set a budget. We never do this but it’s actually be helpful. We both told each other one thing we want (never do this either) and then make up the rest with surprises. My husband is always pretty tough to shop for… we do buy a lot of the things we need as we need them. (Or want them, haha) I do always like to suggest a new date to people if they don’t know what they want. Theater, dinner, a day out, something like that. Memorable, ya know? I can’t wait to see what he ends up getting you! And yes, I think you should trust in Santa. -e


  24. I’ve asked for a bunch of books and giftcards to some home improvement stores.

    If you don’t want something material but people still want to buy you something, you could ask for them to donate money to a cause you care about!


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