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Sudie Crouch: All I want for Christmas is time with my family
Taryn Elliott, Pexels

“What do you want this year?” Mama asked last week. 

I always expect the questions of what I want for both my birthday and Christmas to begin around the beginning of December.

“Nothing,” I said. 

Sudie Crouch
“I bet there’s something you want,” she said. “Poof? Shoes? A new purse?”

I don’t go anywhere often enough to justify a new purse and as much as I love shoes, I have two pairs I bought a year ago still in their boxes.

“I’m good,” I said. 

She sighed. 

“I will just give you money then,” she said defeatedly. “But, you’ve got to promise me you will buy yourself something. And I mean it. Don’t you pay a bill with it or buy groceries.”

For whatever reason, it always upsets Mama when she gives me money for Christmas or my birthday and I use it for something practical. She has long believed gifts should be something frivolous that we wouldn’t normally buy for ourselves. 

The truth is, I don’t need anything, and there’s not anything I want. 

I even told Lamar I didn’t want anything. 

I am sure he was secretly relieved to not have to endure the struggle of finding something for me as a birthday slash Christmas gift, especially when he never knows what to get me.

If he does finds a gift, he shoves it to me still in the store bag while saying, “The receipt’s in there if you want to take it back.” You know, all romantic and thoughtful like. 

It can be tough to know what to get someone whose birthday is the week before Christmas. You want to get them something that is not Christmas themed so it feels more birthday specific.

“Would a new leaf blower count as your birthday?” he asked one year. 

“Think about that for a second,” I said. “Do you really want to get me a leaf blower?”

Needless to say, the leaf blower was bought but not under any pretense. 

There’s just no room left in my tiny cabin for anything else. 

I’m sure I’d love an air fryer or an Instapot but don’t have the counter space for one. 

I have some kind of Ninja something I had to have a few years ago when I was on some juice/smoothie/nasty cleanse kick, only for it to be shoved into a cabinet, and I am not sure where all of its bits and pieces are. 

Books are always appreciated but truthfully, I just bought myself two bookcases simply because they were stackable to try to bring some organization to the ones in my “to be read” pile. 

“If you don’t want anything, then what can I get you for a gift?” Lamar asked. 

I wasn’t sure. 

I read an article recently that talked about how the best non-gift gift was travel but I have never been one that cared for traveling. I have no intention of flying anywhere, get car sick, have to stop a million times for bathroom breaks, and there’s just entirely too much laundry involved. Some people may love the idea of a family trip somewhere, but I’ve watched ‘Home Alone’ enough to know traveling as a gift doesn’t always work out the way you planned.

“Let me think about this,” I said. 

I thought he would have just happily agreed and go back to watching TV — I never once expected him to ask for an alternative.

Since traveling isn’t really an option, I thought about what that may mean for some people. 

Usually, it’s the experience. Being able to make memories doing things together. 

And, the key factor is the togetherness. 

Even though we are usually all here together, we aren’t —Lamar’s in the bedroom watching TV, Cole’s in his room with earbuds in, and I am in the living room on my computer or reading. 

We aren’t doing anything of quality together. 

There wasn’t anything meaningful being shared. 

The last thing we actually watched together was the newest Baby Yoda, but we were all looking at our different devices and not really engaged in the episode at all. It was not exactly family time, at least not in my opinion. 

“I want time,” I finally answered. “Real, sincere, earnest time together. Us planning a night to watch some Christmas movies, eat something — doesn’t have to be anything special. We can have cheese and crackers for all I care. But I want us to all sit in the same room, watch the same thing — no phones, no laptop, no devices of any kind — and spend at least two solid hours together. You can’t get up and wander off to watch the news either.”

Lamar stared at me for about three solid minutes before he blinked. “OK.”

He’s probably wondering how he will survive without watching something on YouTube or being forced to sit for that length of time. 

Time together. 

That’s what I wanted most of all. Nothing bought or ordered. 

It’s the one thing I really wanted and needed. We never have enough time with our loved ones, and the memories will be far better than anything money can buy. 

The best part, they wouldn’t have to even wrap it.

Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.