A wonderful gift
For me, it was Boba Fett.
Growing up with Star Wars, my collection of action figures and assorted toys contained many of the usual suspects (including a die cast Millennium Falcon that I treasured). My friends and I each felt the need to claim a character as our own and somehow, I landed on Boba Fett. I suppose I was drawn toward less common options even then.
The name was the heart of the appeal. (How did I leave it out of this dispatch about favorite names?) It's both unfamiliar and terribly fun to say at the same time.
Christmas arrived at the peak of my fandom and I became consumed with one wish: Boba Fett’s ship. I marveled at the box in the store and marked the page in the catalog to make it easy on my parents. I had learned to cast a wide net in hopes of finding the right presents under the tree, but that year I limited my list to one big thing and a few small things to reduce the chance for disappointment.
I became increasingly obsessed with this gray plastic object of desire. Lacking both belief and patience, I simply had to find out whether the ship would be waiting for me on Christmas morning. With a week to go, I began scouring our cold, dark basement where shopping bags were known to be concealed amongst miscellaneous boxes, rushing up the wooden stairs when I heard stirring from above. When I finally found what I was looking for, I was briefly relieved and then fully miserable, having ruined the Christmas morning surprise for myself and my parents.
Wishes are wrapped in hope, anticipation, and surprise, but I had reduced it to a transaction. Unwrapping the box that morning lacked mystery, but not guilt. The ship was great, though not quite as amazing as I had expected. I always wondered whether I would’ve been happier with it if it had been a surprise. I never told my parents, though my performance was not very convincing.
No one has to teach us to wish for things. We are curious, hopeful even, about what’s to come (though circumstances, resources, and experiences often alter that perspective). It’s during this season in particular, as the year draws to a close and gifts are exchanged, that we are drawn to reflect on where we are and where we’d like to be.
As we grow up, so do our wishes. We find ourselves wishing for less rather than more. Instead of tangible things, we may wish for something to happen and for other things to stop. We think about loved ones in need and treasured friends who are struggling. Our focus turns outward, toward our neighborhoods and communities.
When I think about wishes, the first thing image that comes to mind is my son when he was young, racing down the hallway on Christmas morning, overflowing with wide-eyed wonder. Absent lists or expectations, he was bursting with pure, simple hope. Happiness was just around the corner. He trusted in the surprise.
That's my wish for the year ahead: to believe, even when it feels foolish, that there is joy, beauty, peace, kindness, and empathy at the end of the hallway.
And to chase after it with wide-eyed wonder.
The last dispatch asked, What are you giving thanks for this year?
The things that appear on the What I Am Thankful For list remain pretty much the same year after year, so this go-round I tried to think of things I should be thankful for which don’t readily come to mind whenever it’s listing time:
cotton, because it’s so breathable aluminum, because it’s an excellent way for the cola plant to deliver its beverage to me screensavers, because winners don’t have burn-in question marks, because I need you to know that I need an answer soap, because feeling clean is keen smooth stones, because skipping them across water seems like a bit of zen Buddhist monks have kept secret monkeys, because of fezzes fezzes, because of monkeys
2015 was a rather eventful year for my family and friends. The year included a lot of travel, a couple of job changes, some health issues, and a few minor crises to deal with. But coming up on the end of the year we're all healthy, doing well in our various activities, and looking forward to exciting new things next year. We're thankful for making it through the year mostly unscathed, and hoping for fewer bumps in 2016.
Two things about this year most stand out as cause for thanks. Firstly, I’ve written a tremendous amount: a very extensive third draft of one novel and nearly an entire first draft of another. (I confidently expect to finish this draft before January 1.) Secondly, my small church community has attracted several new, younger people, and we started using Slack to keep in touch throughout the week. Forming a real-life community of people who don’t know each other that way into a combination meatspace/online community that can share prayer requests, doubts, thoughts, and hopes with each other feels like a wonderful gift… something I didn’t expect to get from church.
My beautiful baby girl, who as I write this is sprawled across my lap and snoozing away. 4 months old today :)
Digital Culture, Meet Analog Fever by Rob Walker:
When there is a bits-only version of almost anything, opting for the analog variation demonstrates what we really care about — to the world and to ourselves. To own or experience the analog version of the latest from a favorite musician, author, filmmaker and so on, is an act both sensual and symbolic.
An uncommon gift
If you're looking for something out of the ordinary for an out of the ordinary friend, we're here to help. When you join Uncommon, we'll send you a beautiful invite and envelope to mail, put under the tree, or theatrically present during a pause in your dinner conversation. The invite provides a year of Uncommon with no strings attached (unless you actually want to use strings, of course). We'd love nothing more than to welcome you both to the neighborhood.
Which of your early wishes do you most remember?