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“All I want is for you to be happy” were the words that came out of my mouth. As I heard myself I was reminded of the many times I had asked my mother or father what they wanted for Christmas. 

giving, giving, giving

As a child and a young adult I would experience frustration when they answered with “I don’t need anything, I just want you and everyone in the family to be okay”. I wanted a concrete answer—something I could buy or make—something I could wrap up and put under the Christmas tree. Being tenacious I would pursue that idea, that item that would give me some direction and would satisfy my goal of buying my Christmas gifts for my parents.

“I know you want everything to be okay but REALLY what do you want me to buy you for Christmas?” Inevitably this exchange would go back and forth until either my parents would give me a vague idea of something that I could buy or I would think of something or I would see the perfect thing in a store and my goal was achieved. Every Christmas there was something under the tree nicely labeled “To Mom; Love Irene”. To this day my father will specifically ask us not to buy him any gifts for Christmas. He will tell us once again that he has everything that he needs and that he just wants to enjoy people’s company. To this day I still find some little present, usually a CD to wrap up and have for him to open on Christmas morning. Old habits die hard.

Interestingly over the years I have become my parents responding to the questions “what do you want for Christmas?” with the same answers.

Just recently my son asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I replied with “I don’t need anything, I have all the things I need and all I want is for you to continue on your path, to be happy with what you are doing, to be happy with who you are and to have all your dreams come true”. He gave me the very same look and response that I used to give my parents and I know that there will be a gift from him to me under the Christmas tree again this year, just as there will be one for my father from me under his.


Irene McDermott © 2011