Anna and I were on the couch last night and I was wrapping the gifts that David and I had picked out for his therapists and teacher. She looked over at me and said, "Mom - what do you want for Christmas? And don't say the pirate guy from 'Once Upon A Time'."
Well, hell. There goes the first item on my list.
I gave her the usual list of stuff. Bath gel. DVD's. Christmas socks. Stuff that fits into a twelve year old's budget. The truth is, though, I can do without all that. So Anna, if you're reading this, just give me:
1. One entire day of you and your brother getting along. This means that the following are excluded: "Almost" touching each other, "Accidentally" bumping each other with a shoulder, mysteriously knowing where his/her missing toy or electronics item is but not saying you're the one who took it and put it there, or insisting on having the last word in any verbal altercation. Just one day.
2. Watch a Christmas movie with me from start to finish and don't reach for your phone, tablet or laptop once. Let's sing along with Kermit the Frog in the Muppet Christmas Carol, or the Hot Chocolate song from Polar Express. I love that electronics have made it easy for you to text me or Facetime me while you're with your Dad on his weekends, but when you're here, I'd like to see more than the top of your head for long stretches at a time.
3. Try to believe, just a little, in Christmas magic. I know you've got it in you. You're twelve now, and Santa has been outed to you for more than a few years. But that doesn't mean there isn't still magic in twinkling lights, crisp, cold air, and the warmth of family and friends. Christmas can bring out the best in people. Look for it, my darling, and there you'll find the magic.
4. I could give you a long list of chores you could help with more: vacuuming, picking up, loading and unloading the dishwasher, laundry, yard work...the truth is though, I just generally want you to be more helpful, and not just with me. Look around the house, the neighborhood, your school, your world. How can you help? Even if it's only in little ways, it's worth doing. You're a wonderful kid, with a good heart. Use it.
5. Be kind. All the time. Really, if I could narrow the list to one, this would be it. Try to be kinder. Remember that everybody has a story, even that weird guy who's crushing on you in third period and that girl on the bus who never talks to anyone. Middle school is hard, I know, but life is harder, and we all have one. Kindness. It's what I wish for you to show and be shown, every single day.
So that's the short list of things I'd love to have. And of course, it goes without saying that I got all the gift I could've ever asked for when you and your brother were hand-delivered by a God who knew how much I'd need you.
I'll let you work those out. In the meantime, I'll be over here, counting my blessings and knitting a pirate-sized stocking.