Wish list

giftsThere is this writing program sponsored by my cancer hospital that allows patients to express themselves and get an opportunity to publish their work. Each year, I try to write a piece and submit it for publication. For this year, however, I tried to write what I didn’t realize would be a complicated story for me – a lot of buried emotions came alive.

I’ve been focusing on childhood stories about my grandmother and me, and this year was no different. I was inspired to write about that one Christmas when I did not get any presents. I thought it was an interesting story to share for so many reasons— the cultural aspect of it and the feeling of injustice from a child’s perspective were both intriguing topics for me. No one ever spoke about that Christmas in my family. I never mentioned it either, mostly because I felt embarrassed. (For years, I wondered what I had done wrong that Santa did not forgive me for!). I now understand that it was emotionally painful for everyone involved. But still, this experience was such an eye-opener for me. Whether it was intentional or not, I think this was the first day I had a taste of adulthood – when I realized that Santa doesn’t always show up, and you sort of have to roll with it.

I never finished writing the story this year, mostly because I got a late start. The thing that was surprising to me is that, as I was writing it, I started to cry. After all those years, I did not think this specific memory would affect me. But I didn’t cry because of the sadness I remembered feeling that year. The tears came from something else.

The last month or two, my fiancé had been asking me for a wish list to get some ideas for presents for me. It was very hard for me to come up with a simple list of things for him and his family to consider. I haven’t really celebrated the holidays for a long, long time. And to be honest, I’ve always considered it to be just another distraction. And the older I get, the more complicated I find it to be. I know it’s a good reason to reconnect and just do little things for one another – a reason to do some escaping from reality perhaps. But even doing these things has become overwhelming for me. Where did my Christmas spirit go?

But going back to that childhood story I could not finish; I’ve been thinking about why I felt so emotional about it. I realize that as I get older, my wishes become more elusive. I stopped wanting anything concrete long ago. What I really want can’t be purchased or recovered.

Looking back to that Christmas day when Santa didn’t come, I realize now that, as poor as we were when I was a little kid, I really had it all. I was just a child, who like everyone else, didn’t realize the richness of her world. It didn’t matter that there were no presents under my Christmas tree that year. I had a wonderful home where I always felt loved, protected and cared for. I had my innocence, my health (without the need of constant monitoring), my youth, and the best grandma anyone could ever ask for. I guess those would be the items I would put on my wish list today, if I could. The things that I wish so much I had back in my life.

I know many of you probably feel the same way too. And it’s totally OK to miss what we once had, even when there are other blessings in our lives.

Wishing you all kindness and a great sense of peace for the New Year, and the desire to create new meaning in your lives.

About thesmallc

I'm Rebeca. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32. But there's more to my story: I am an animal lover. I love to cook. I have a wonderful fiancé who doesn't mind walking my rocky path with me. We currently live in New York. ---------------------------------------- “Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.” ― Viktor E. Frankl
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11 Responses to Wish list

  1. nancyspoint says:

    Hi Rebecca,
    What a beautiful post. The part about the year/day Santa didn’t show up and you got a taste of adulthood was so touching. The holidays do change following cancer, loss or any life-changing circumstance. Lots of us wonder from time to time where our Christmas spirit went. And it’s not surprising that in the process of writing that story you cried. Emotions are always closer to the surface during the holidays I think. At least they are for me. I wish you had some of those things you mentioned back in your life too. Especially your grandma. I love it when you write about her. The love you two shared always shines through. Wishing you good things, good times and good health in the New Year. And peace in your heart. Looking forward to reading more of your posts! xo

    • thesmallc says:

      Happy and healthy New Year, Nancy! Thank you for your kind words and good wishes. I always get more emotional during the holidays. Tomorrow (Jan. 2) is my grandma’s anniversary so it will be a quiet day for me. I love writing about her. It has helped a lot with my healing. May the new year be a lot kinder to all of us. I am looking forward to reading your posts too. xo

  2. Lovely post, Rebecca. I find increasingly as I get older, I do not want any more things. I’ve even made it a rule with friends not to give me things as presents. In fact, I generally only give my friends experiences as gifts — plans for concerts, theater, fancy dinners. Things just clutter up life. Experiences create memories and deepen friendships. Wishing you and all of us health and peace in 2017. xo, Kathi

    • thesmallc says:

      Happy and healthy New Year, Kathi! Your idea sounds great. Experiences are certainly more enriching. I prefer creating memories too. Thank you for your good wishes. May 2017 be kind to all of us. xo

  3. I was incredibly moved reading this Rebecca. You are a wonderfully sensitive and evocative writer. Wishing you an abundance of peace, joy and love in 2017 xxxx

  4. Pingback: Weekly Round Up: New Year’s Day Edition | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  5. Mandi says:

    What a lovely story. I hope you had a very happy New Years!

  6. bethgainer says:

    Rebecca, this is a poignant post. Like you, I’m not fond of the holidays. For me, it’s like we are all forced to seem happy when we might not be. I also yearn for the innocence I had years ago. I miss the days when I thought I was immortal, young, and invincible. As you know, cancer throws a major wrench into things. I loved your Christmas story. I hope you have a wonderful 2017.

    • thesmallc says:

      Happy New Year, Beth! I miss those good old days like nothing else. Cancer is such a thief! Thank you for your good wishes. Wishing you kindness and good health for the new year. xo

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