You can only pick one thing, my sister would say, which would prompt my bargaining to begin in earnest.
What if I pick two things on this page, and skip the next page?
No, she’d say, that’s not allowed, and besides, you’ll cheat.
The Wish Book sat heavy between us, our small laps a shared tabletop as we flipped each page—wishes made, wishes still to come. My sister was right, of course; I’d never want to skip a pick on the next page, and would push my reckoning well past the toy section, the clothing section, the jewelry, until we got to the bedspreads and the game was over. Our imaginary treasure boxes were filled to bursting and we had exhausted both the pages of the catalogue, as well as the fantastical Christmas list desires of two young girls.
That we didn’t celebrate Christmas was hardly the point.
We knew that there would be no tree, no Santa, no stockings, no gift list a mile long to present to eager parents. But there would be night after night of two small girls sitting on a couch, haggling over the merits of each of us picking a different superhero sleeping bag, and whether or not we would actually share the bounty, as we assured each other we hypothetically could. That the entire exercise was theoretical was perfectly unimportant. We would often call our mother over to look at an item we were particularly excited about.
Pick one thing, she’d tell us, and maybe for Hanukkah…
So we’d scan the catalogue again and again, unaware of our place in this grand holiday tradition, focusing all of our energy on narrowing down our choice.
* * *
The snow has finally begun—snow that assures us the winter weather is here; that this time it’s sticking around. I’m busy in the kitchen with the kinds of things mothers are often busy with: cleaning off dinner dishes, emptying out school bags. I am taking inventory of the tasks and obligations of the coming week. Parent/teacher interviews, book orders due, a meeting here, an appointment there. I wonder if I will be able to do it all; if I will be able to decide what gets pushed, gets left unfinished.
Hanukkah is coming up soon, followed closely by Christmas. Lucky ducks that they are, my children celebrate both. Hanukkah is songs and latkes and the lighting of the menorah, and customs carried from my own childhood, shared in the relative quiet of our home. Christmas is a feast of family and noise and celebration, and everything I adore about my husband’s background. If my children are spoiled, it is in the very best possible way—in tradition and culture and security and love.
The chores complete, I look in on my two daughters, who sit on the couch in our living room. Their childhood is very different from mine, which makes me at once both nostalgic and hopeful. There’s a fire burning in the fireplace, and a cat grooming herself precariously close to the flames. Between the girls there lays a book, and I recognize it instantly. Not quite as massive as the tome from my own childhood, the girls flip the pages of wishes slowly, methodically.
Oh! I want that, and that one, too my younger daughter cries, but her older sister admonishes her immediately.
No, Cassidy. That’s not how you do it. Look at each page carefully, and pick one thing.
* * *
Want a wish of your own? Sears.ca has generously outfitted me with three $50 gift certificates to give to my readers! Simply leave a comment telling me a favourite memory associated with the Wish Book, or what you would buy yourself or somebody else this year from the Wish Book or Sears.ca. Winners will be drawn on Wednesday, December 10. Good luck!
This post is sponsored by Sears.ca. I was compensated for this post, but all thoughts, opinions and wishes are my own.