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. Or it may have just been that outstanding name.
Christmas arrived at the peak of my fandom and I was 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.
Lacking faith and patience, I had to find out whether the gray, plastic object of desire would be waiting for me on Christmas morning. With a week to go, I scoured 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.