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What I Want for Christmas

Peace, goodwill and Slack Winery’s Pink Shoals

Read any good Christmas lists lately?    
    Good will and peace on Earth continue to top every list, as we haven’t gotten there yet. Despite the best efforts of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, those eternal aspirations remain elusive.
    Perhaps our continual striving is the point. Perhaps each round of striving is actually a cycle in an upward spiral. I’ve held onto that hope these many years, ever since my esteemed professor Walter J. Ong S.J. — past president of the Modern Language Association — made a note to that effect in his marginal annotation of a paper that must have appeared sophomorically cynical. And for good reason: I was, at its writing, a sophomore.
    Beyond good will and peace on Earth, what we all want for Christmas, Chanukah or the holidays we celebrate is to satisfy the heart’s desire of the people we love.
    That’s not so easy, either.
    How many Beanie Babies, LEGO sets and American Girl dolls fit in a 21st century kid’s life and bedroom?
    “She has too many toys already,” writes son Nathaniel in answer to this year’s question of what granddaughter Ada wants for Christmas.
    American Girl’s 2012 girl McKenna is also on her list.
    “She can’t have another doll,” her father writes. “With three already, we’re running out of space in her room for those big dolls.”
    Husband Lambrecht and I find ourselves in the same position.
    We have run out of room for any more things. I come to this conclusion more reluctantly than he, for — like my grandkids Jack the high-financier of LEGO, Elsa and Ada — I still feel the acquisitive itch.
    But son Nathaniel’s gift of finely framed art prints of legends of local history and politics have taken up the last of our wall space.
    Daughter-in-law Lisa’s wine goblets edged into the last bit of shelf space in the china cabinet, while her placemats and napkins fill my space for such items to the overflowing. We use them most nights, opening the door to avalanches of many of the napkins and placemats that, over the years, I couldn’t resist and now can’t bear to get rid of.
    (Though my latest check, for $10.60, from Second Wind consignments includes $1.75 for one set of our slippery burgundy napkins. That, however is a slippery slope, as every visit adds another bargain to my domestic overflow. That’s the place people in my neighborhood take all the Christmas gifts purchased in a last moment of desperation. Gifts like the sandwich press I received from stepmother Violet or the Chinese cooking set, complete with wok, husband Lambrecht gave his pot-roast-favoring parents. Somebody else is sure to want all such loving misjudgments.)
    We’ve done it to ourselves, as well. Lambrecht’s collection of Oaxacan rugs double-covers every floor. My gluttony for dishes and kitchenwares makes me believe there’s always room for more. So we have a plate for every season, a platter for every meal, a glass for every beverage (though I would like a nice set of glass hot toddy mugs, and I do mourn passing up that Moscow mule set at Second Wind).
    We’ve received so much — not to mention bought so much ourselves — that this year, our Christmas list is simple. Please give us your love — but nothing we can’t eat, drink or otherwise use up.
    And please, tell me if you know the perfect gift for seven-, 11- and 12-year-olds, who are following in our well-filled footsteps.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; [email protected]