Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
One of the new holiday traditions we have added to the mix – along with the annual staples of decorating cookies and watching Love Actually and How Murray Saved Christmas – is the wish basket. Each family member gets to put an activity in the wish basket that all of us do together. It is a way to ensure that we have lots of quality family time in the few days we are all under one roof. We went on a long walk together, we played Quiplash and introduced other friends to it at our Chanukah and Christmas Eve dinners, and Eliza treated us to a concert of her songs on the guitar.
My choice for the wish basket always elicits groans but the rule is that you have to do it. My activity of choice is that we all take turns saying what we love about each other. I think we are pretty good about saying I love you regularly, and it is something that gives me great comfort and closure with my dad. Every conversation ended with an I love you and I do not have to ponder whether he knew how much he was loved, especially since there was no opportunity to say goodbye. But this is different. This is not just telling your sibling or child or parent that you love him or her, but articulating something that you love and admire in particular.
Eliza told Hannah that she appreciates her combination of theatrical talent coupled with intellect, so that her comedy and acting is as smart as it is good. Noah told Eliza that he appreciates how cool she is and that she has evolved into such an interesting and talented adult. I told Noah how much I appreciate his political activism and how he has remained engaged at a time when we most need him, and David added how impressive it is that he has managed to do so in Wisconsin where he had no connections or past experience. David told me that he appreciates that I have made him a better person (yes, that slayed me) and I told him how much I value what he does around the house to take care of all the things I would never think of, like changing the air filters and fixing that little crack in the chimney I never noticed.
As much as everyone rolls their eyes at my lame activity of choice, I think we all walk a little taller afterwards. It is nice to hear genuine, heartfelt compliments, especially from people whose opinions mean the world to you. Sometimes it confirms and reaffirms something you already knew about yourself and sometimes it is something you didn’t even know was valued or a perspective you didn’t have about something you did not perceive as something admirable. Either way, it is nice to know not just that you are loved, but what it is that you uniquely bring to the world.
At a time when there is much joy in giving and receiving presents aplenty (especially when you celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas), my favorite gift is this.