As children we’re consumed with getting things we want for Christmas. Sure, our parents tried to instill in us the value of giving to others, but you simply can’t wrap your brain around the idea of giving when for 30 minutes or so on the morning of December 25th, you’re overwhelmed with ripping open boxes wrapped in colorful paper delivered in the middle of the night by a jolly old elf.

Eventually, for some of us, things change. We become more cognizant of others and begin to understand that the real meaning of Christmas is the joy of giving. Of course this peaks when we have our own children whom we dazzle with gifts on Christmas morning. But then our kids grow up and, hopefully, if we’ve done well to teach them, they too embrace the idea of giving. However, as long as we don’t drop out of society altogether, we are always the object of someone else’s giving.

This year when my kids asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I gave them the answer I give them every year, “Nothing.” Usually when I say this, I do it as a way to get them to think about it. And no matter what it is they end up giving to me, I’m always surprised and grateful. But this year I meant it. I don’t want anything. Really.

There was a time in my adult life when what I wanted consumed me. I was never satisfied with what I had and so I was always reaching for the thing that was just beyond my fingertips. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown wiser. I know – it sounds cliche, but it’s true. This doesn’t mean that my desire to push into new realms is gone. I still have dreams. But my dreams are different now. And I know that if I’m meant to reach them, I will. Simply by taking steps in those directions. You can’t buy my dreams at the mall.

Aside from those dreams, I can say with confidence that I have everything I’ve ever wanted in my life. I wanted love. I wanted an education. I wanted a car. I wanted children. I wanted friends. I wanted a house. I wanted a career. I wanted sobriety.

What else is there? I have enough clothes. I don’t wear jewelry. We have insurance. We have jobs to help us pay for all the things we need to survive in the American Machine.

For the first time in my life, it feels like I’ve got everything. And yet, I probably always have. Still, come Christmas morning I’ll unwrap the handmade coffee mug from my daughters, the one with ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ etched on the front of it, and I’ll smile like a kid who got everything he’d ever wished for.

Because I have.

Merry Christmas.


Jim Mitchem


Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.