This year, I’m less about stuff under the tree and more about substance in my life. Everyone is asking me what I want, and I keep drawing a blank. The thrill of materialism just ain’t what it used to be. Somehow it’s all Gucci for me this year—without the Gucci.
What I want lies more in my heart than in my wallet. I must be maturing, because I feel this way even before I’ve gorged myself at a single office party or lost myself in the sound of wrapping paper flying around the room like shrapnel on Christmas morning.
My real desire is not minimalism; I definitely want more. But not more stuff. I want to be more connected, more judicious and stronger in every area of my life.
How do I get what I want this Christmas? I give it to myself, that’s how. It starts with the thoughts I think every day, and getting real with myself about what I’m wasting my time—and, by extension, my life—thinking about.
How do I do that? The best way to measure is to look at what’s going through my head, and the effect it has on the people I love, care about and work with when I speak and act on it. Not wasting my time and energy—or anybody else’s, for that matter—is a priceless gift.
Too much stuff weighs us down. A very smart friend of mine once told me a quote she’d heard somewhere: “What you own owns you.” It’s stayed with me since she said it, and comes back to haunt me when I’m frantically rifling through my closet, looking for that one black sweater that’s impossible to find because I have more clothes than I can find space to put away.
“What you own owns you” haunts me in the form of a monthly credit card bill that stings with the shock of “What the hell did I buy?” when I open it. Time is money. Time is also all we have, so I want to remind myself not to give it away carelessly. And in the interest of not giving anything away carelessly, I’m thinking—how can I give generously?
What’s the sexiest, most lavish gift I could give myself? To free myself of all the clutter I’ve collected, due to boredom or impulse. Gluttony and vanity are the two evil elves I don’t want on my shelf this year. What’s on my Christmas list this year are the kinds of gifts that will keep on giving: strength, connection, growth and the satisfaction of time well spent.
Christmas list or bucket list, doesn’t matter. I want to see the seven wonders of the world. So far, I’ve seen a few: I walked the Great Wall of China in 1989—with the Italian designer Valentino. I swam the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. I climbed up Sugar Loaf to visit the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro’s harbor. My travels have taken me past the Coliseum in Rome on the way to the airport on a few occasions, but I never had—or made—time to get out of the car and explore.
But from the wonders I’ve already seen, I can say you don’t forget them—ever. My kids are big enough now that it’s time to take those extreme trips as a family; and we need to seize the moment, before they start leaving the nest. Next on my list? The Great Pyramids of Giza, in Egypt, the Victoria Falls in South Africa and Niagara Falls in Canada—a trip our New York-based family can take just by hopping on Amtrak or renting a recreational vehicle for a road trip.
Those are big dreams on my wish list, and it’s as much about looking forward in anticipation of the adventure as actually getting there. But since anticipation can become procrastination, this year, I’m going to consider letting Nomadness Travel Tribe and National Geographic Tours help satisfy my wanderlust.
But on the real, the holidays are already upon us right here and now, and I’ve barely had time to get in the spirit. So, since there’s been no shopping or preparations of any kind to be made in my household yet, I think I better think of some small things that mean a lot for this year.
Nothing says lovin’ like something Mama makes in the oven—or the Crock-Pot. With my new job here at The Glow Up, I’m busier than ever. I have less and less time to prepare for my favorite hour of the day, when our family comes together over a meal. For our busy lives, slow food for fast times is the answer.
One-pot meals are a clean and lean way to cook. So, what’s one gift I’ll be giving myself—and my family—this Christmas? A triple Crock-Pot so I can throw down some rice, greens and a stew all at once, to ensure there’s something for everyone ready and waiting when we get home tired and hungry at the end of the day.
I’ve asked everyone in the house to find a recipe. Truthfully, it’s a plot on my part to get my family to make dates with me to buy groceries and hang in the kitchen, savoring time well spent together. And to make our season bright, I’ll dress the table so that even our most basic nights feel like a holiday.
Sounds selfless and perfect, right? Let’s see if I can pull it off—or anything close to it, for that matter—and move beyond what’s easy and expected in the everyday (including getting those groceries delivered). Because the best present I can give this year is to stay present, instead of mindlessly swiping my credit card out of boredom or in an empty attempt to change my mood.
The truth is, I’ve been gifted with a lot. So, in every moment, I’m going to try to be mindful of building connection with what matters most in life: my time, and time with the people I love.