Sunday, January 09, 2011

on christmas lists, god, and the seahawks

some people hate christmas lists. they hate to write them and they hate to receive them. these people see the christmas list as a failure of knowledge and intimacy. they rightly point out that the purpose of gift-giving isn't to fulfill some need but to provide one another with meaningful tokens of our love and thanks and friendship.

i'm not one of these people. i suppose i'm a christmas list moderate.

i don't eagerly keep a list all year of the things i'd like for christmas and then postmark that list for the north pole on the fourth friday of november. and honestly, i never really know what to put on said list. but if my mom calls me up and asks what i want for christmas, i'll certainly oblige.

and as a giver, i really do want to light upon the perfect gift, the gift that would never find its way onto a christmas list. i want to give that very thing that will communicate a special bond between us, that will say, this is a gift uniquely from me to you, and it is awesome. because you are awesome. and i am awesome. and yes, we, together, are awesome.

but finding that special gift is hard. it's not something you can force. it comes to you like a poem, a word or phrase nestled in the rubble of otherwise useless dreams. and you may not know this, but most of us are bad poets. we mistake cutesy rhythm and rhyme or archaic verbiage for inspiration. we can't feel the imagery or themes outside the cage of our own skull.

and so, barring the miracle of the true muse or the true poet, the giver who undertakes a listless christmas may be giving just that, a listless christmas.

instead, i like to think of the christmas list as a tool. if you tell me you like bawdy limericks about snails or that red wheelbarrow poem by william carlos williams, i might still write a bad poem, but at least i'll know where to start. at least i won't be groping around in an infinite wasteland of content, imagery, and form.

so why the post-christmas post on christmas lists? well, mostly i wanted to write about my new kindle. but i got sidetracked by memory and discovery.

this year i mostly received gifts that were on my list, and perhaps some part of me, the christmas list antipath, i suspect, felt cheated by the absence of new poetry.

yet there were little surprises--the fingerless gloves were black, not wool; the e-reader was a kindle, not a nook. and both did the trick; both delighted me in the end--the fingerless gloves perfectly allowed me to adjust my temp when running the polar bear 5K on new year's day, and the kindle has pleasantly surprised me with how much i enjoy reading (and browsing) using its interface.

but above all, there was the unsuspected awesomeness of sharing in those gifts with the givers, in reading to my parents from my kindle as we trekked south to eugene, in accompanying my dad to a chilly wild-card playoff game at qwest stadium and high-fiving him ecstatically (while wearing those gloves) when marshawn lynch clicked it into beast mode, breaking eight tackles and stiff-arming his way to a sixty-seven yard run.

because, after all, what's more awesome than a crazy game that makes nfl and underdog history? what's more awesome than sixty thousand people losing their voices in praise of one thing? this is how i imagine heaven--a gift and an unbridled sense of exultation and joy. and no list could have scripted that.