The Kid With a 60-Page Christmas List

I’ll never forget the day I asked one of my young piano students what he wanted for Christmas. It was a generic question, a pleasantry. I wasn’t looking for make, model, and serial number, but that’s what I got. He whipped out a 60-page list from his book bag. I gulped, checked to see if this child was serious (he was), and quickly proceeded with his music lesson. 

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I don’t know how many toys, electronics, and gadgets he had on that list, but at five things per page that would be three hundred entries. I’ll admit to participating in a few overly indulged Christmases in my foolish past, but even I cannot imagine what that child’s dream Christmas would look like. 

Somehow, I think that most of us have a bit of that kid in us. We want it all. And every bank and credit-card company out there is affirming the notion and willing to make it happen. 

We see what we like and feel entitled to get what we want because we want it and we want it all now.

In time, however, we reach the maximum level of satisfaction. It happens quietly, without fanfare. In fact, we might not be aware that we made it, so we keep working at it. More striving to get more stuff to keep feeling satisfied. And the more we attempt to increase that level, the more difficult it becomes to retain a sense of fulfillment. More becomes less as our feelings of satisfaction diminish.

By the looks of some of our closets and garages, we’ve been doing a pretty good job of trying to get it all. But how much of it satisfies? How much of what we have is actually contributing to the quality of our lives?

The secret of living the life you love is the ability to identify the point of maximum fulfillment, the point of “enough.” More than what it takes to reach maximum fulfillment will not increase your happiness; in fact, it begins eating  away at your sense of satisfaction. 

Get in touch with your internal satisfaction “meter.” Doing this will be very revealing. Rate your possessions. How much satisfaction do they give you?

If you consider everything in your life—family, friends, furniture, cars, Beany Baby collection—rating its level of satisfaction, you will learn a lot about yourself and your current situation.

Question: Have you ever thought about what your point of maximum fulfillment looks like? Are you there? Still striving for even more?

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11 replies
  1. chibibarako
    chibibarako says:

    You knew the kid, so you know best if he really expected to get the whole list, but I remember I made huge lists as a kid hoping I’d hit SOMETHING (ideally several somethings) that my parents would/could/were willing to get me. I never expected to get the entire list; I think I would have dropped dead of shock if I had.

    Reply
  2. Raine
    Raine says:

    When my husband went on disability, our first Christmas was really tough. That year Christmas day was on a Sunday and I will never forget seeing all my church friends with all their new stuff. I felt so left out and pitiful. After that we talked about changing our expectations and what was really important. We made a family decision to listen very carefully to one another and that Christmas give a gift that showed that we listened to one another’s stories. That year, our son told us a story about a friend who had given her mother-in-law a box of chocolates for mother’s day. She really wanted one of those chocolates herself so she unwrapped the box, took out a chocolate, and gifted the rewrapped box. That really tickled Alex, our son. For Christmas that year, we bought 5 boxes of chocolate covered cherries, carefully opened each box and removed one candy. The first box he opened he just looked kind of puzzled. By the 2nd box he knew something was up. The rest were just hilarious. It ended up being one of the best Christmases ever.

    Reply
  3. g8isgr8
    g8isgr8 says:

    Amen! Learned that lesson at age 70. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? I buy grown kids a new shirt and give them one of the “treasures” I’ve acquired in my travels/jobs as a teacher in Europe & africa, complete with info and a story about how It came to me. Ditto with unique vintage & antique items I inherited from my parents & grandparents with original photos of which I have 100’s. This I feel is more meaningful now than when I’m not here and it might be all tossed out in the trash. My grandparents came from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and the Netherlands but my children and grandchildren have passports from USA & Austria. Hopefully yhese trinkets and the stories will help them know about their roots.
    Oma in the OC

    Reply
  4. tinydogpries
    tinydogpries says:

    Having been a single mother raising two kids on minimum wage I know what it’s like to have to be miserly. I will never forget my son at about the age of 8 seeing that a movie was out that he wanted to see telling me ” Maybe we can see it next year, mom.” I about broke into tears. That said, my kids got 1 gift for Christmas and one for their birthday (both are born in Dec.) and anything else came from friends or family. they were fine with that. Sometimes Christmas even came in Jan or Feb for us. For me, I don’t care about “things” much. My couch is shredded, but one can still sit on it, same with my chair (yes, only one of each). They look like garbage, but they are usable. My “happy fix” might be a cone from McDonalds or a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger from Wendy’s. I’ve never expected much and doubt if I ever will.

    Reply
    • DianaB
      DianaB says:

      I know this sounds somber and pessimistic (I am not one, thank you), the answer to that is if you never expect something you are not disappointed when you don’t get it. A little tongue in cheek, but so true nonetheless. I practice that most all the time. Just make your choices and expectations realistic. So, tinydogpries, I can appreciate fully your choices.

      Reply
    • Guest
      Guest says:

      I venture to guess that your children have become grateful adults, with fond memories of growing up feeling loved and accepted. Thanks for your comment, TG!

      Reply
  5. Robyn
    Robyn says:

    Mary I have found that buying things wasn’t about getting things but me looking for happiness. My life would be perfect if I could just find the right pocket book or outfit and my life was perfect, or so I thought, the first day I wore the outfit or used the pocket book but after that is was just a used outfit or pocket book. And believe me I spent thousands looking for “the one” that was going to make my life perfect. I have also looked for a perfect life in furniture for the home, I’ve gone through 7 couches in a period of 25 years. I just realized recently that no “thing” is going to bring me happiness, happiness can only be found within yourself.

    Reply
  6. BethAnn
    BethAnn says:

    I am recently divorced and had to declare bankruptcy rather than be stuck with having to pay the debts of my ex-husband–debts that he acquired while seeing other women during our marriage. I have 3 teenagers, and we have decided that we will make our Christmas lists be 4 items long: something we want, something we need, something to wear, and something to read. They are very content with this.

    Reply
    • DianaB
      DianaB says:

      Sounds like a very good plan as far as lists go. Having said that, those things can add up financially quite staggeringly. Hope there is a choice to pick only one thing from each list as finances allow. The four of you could also draw names and be responsible for only on gift from that person’s list and that would be even more appreciated I would bet. Hope your Christmas is blessed.

      Reply
    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Great idea, BethAnn. I like that a lot. And I’ll bet your teens are getting through this season of your lives very well. They have a great mom 🙂

      Reply

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