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Making wish lists and making wishes Making wish lists and making wishes

Letters From Home

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On the making of wish lists

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I learned early on that it wasn’t a good idea to let my parents know what I wanted for my birthday or Christmas.

Seems paradoxical, doesn’t it?  But my parents came from worlds completely different from mine, and making them understand mine was…  well, if not always an exercise in futility, at least frequently not worth the tremendous effort.  Plus, they tended to forget things within minutes after you’d told them, and they were prone to promise things and never deliver.

Thus, better not to say anything and get my hopes up.  Whatever they thought to get would have to be fine.

They did OK, most of the time.   But I never told them about the things I really, really wanted.  And thus my mother was astonished to hear, when I was in my fifties and she was past seventy, that I’d wanted a Vespa from the first day I’d seen it in the Sears store.  What good would it have done to tell her?  Besides the fact that I was eight years old at the time, the Vespa (“our finest motor scooter”) cost over $300 and it might as well have been three million bucks for all my parents could have afforded something like that.  So, it took me 44 years to get the Vespa and surprise the dickens out of my mother.

In some ways, not telling people what I wanted was just an act of self-preservation.  My father tended to laugh at things that were outside his own focus, or that seemed to him to be unsuitable for girls to be wanting.  It’s hard for a kid to want something that your parents think is laughable.   My dad was the kind of guy who would buy me men’s socks with black and red bands around the top, to wear to school.  He meant well.  I rolled down the tops of the socks.

The first really “feminine” present he ever bought me, was a small bottle of Imprevu perfume when I got the second-highest score in the school on the National Merit test.  I still have that bottle, perfume long since gone, carefully packed away as a reminder of something more than special.

But getting into a habit of silence like that isn’t good, in the long run, because then you feel uneasy about revealing what you’d like.  Oh, the Amazon wish list makes it a bit easier, to be sure (and I go through mine on a regular basis and even buy myself stuff that’s on it from time to time) but not every place that has stuff that I covet has a wish list.  So far, Amazon and the Duluth Trading Company are the only ones I’ve made.  And after all these years I can’t just march up to my family and hand them a bunch of catalogs with stuff circled.  I wish I could.  But I can’t.

So I’m still being happy about whatever they pick.  Sometimes that’s easy, sometimes not.  And I just buy myself the stuff I really covet, now and again, when the time seems right.

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Author: infmom

Otherwise known as Infamous Mom.

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