You Can’t Always Get What You Want (aka: Christmas Choices)

It’s nearly midnight on Christmas Eve.

I would love to be tucked into my bed, watching visions of sugarplums dance through my head, but no such luck. Because I’m the mom.


The mom gets to sit in the living room, sipping a glass of chardonnay as Smallville plays on the television, and staring down at a pile of metal bars and chains, which, when assembled, will somehow form a bicycle. Afterward, I get to rip open yet another cardboard box and start putting together a second bicycle. Two shiny new bikes for teens who actually really need them to get to school each day.

At least, I’ve convinced myself that they need them.

I like to choose Christmas gifts based on the familiar old adage:

Something they want
Something they need
Something to wear
and something to read.

Pajamas? Check. Books, check. They hardest part is discerning between something my kids desire to have and something they actually need. It is something that many of us Americans struggle with in this culture of excess. We stroll through a Target store, drooling over the shelves packed with sparkling novelties. Coffee makers that produce a perfect cup of joe at the mere push of a button. Water bottles with built in filters to make our clean tap water even cleaner. Powerful tablet computers that fit in a handbag.

Oooh, I need that, we tell ourselves as we fill our red plastic shopping carts with far more items than would fit on our actual shopping lists. But in reality, we don’t. We want those things. We desire those things. But we so easily get what we want and desire mixed up with what we need.


My kids probably don’t need most of what is currently wrapped and waiting beneath the Christmas tree. Those are desired luxury items; scented lotions and electronic doodads that will bring moments of excited smiles and happy laughter as they rip open the colorful paper. My children already have what they need — healthy food, clothes that fit, and a mother who loves them like crazy. These beautiful new bikes (once they become bikes) are not a true need. They want bicycles, and I want them to have bicycles to get to school and around town. Could they have lived well without them? Absolutely. They already have.

As we transition into the upcoming new year, I hope to do a better job of separating the things that I want or desire from that which I really need. I also hope to transmit the correct value to these three terrific kids of mine, too. You can’t always get what you want. You shouldn’t always strive for what you desire. Believe it or not, life is better when you learn to be content with what you have instead of always looking to the next Big Thing that catches your attention.

Oh look — it is officially Christmas morning. And there are still these pieces of bike to be assembled. Santa doesn’t get much sleep on such a night. Time to crack open the toolkit and make this Christmas morning a merry one for my family.

I wish the same for all of you. Peace!



6 responses to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want (aka: Christmas Choices)

  1. Sounds like you’re on the right track (yes, pun intended!)…huge pat on the back to you! From – a Mom of three grown kids and two grandkids
    Enjoy the quiet of the days afterwards…
    ps-in our house we always teased my folks cuz they were the ones to give ‘put-together’ gifts to their grands; which hubby toiled over! HA!

    • Hahaha…well, one of my kids did get a Lego set from Santa, which he will happily toil over, too, 😉 The bikes were a tremendous hit, btw. I didn’t get to sleep until after 3am, and the wheel of one bike still doesn’t turn well, but by golly, they were done in time! 😀 Happy morning, happy kids. Merry Christmas! 🎄

  2. I think it’s great that you’re teaching the kids the difference between wants and needs, and they sound very appreciative of everything they do have. Hopefully they will also appreciate the beauty and benefits of voluntary simplicity, recognizing that by living with less they actually have richer experiences in life and spend less of their valuable time keeping up with all their stuff. (Yes, I know, I’m projecting!) 🙂 Happy New Year!!

    • I hope that my kids are absorbing the value of voluntary simplicity, too. They definitely notice how much simpler it is to clean and stay organized when there is a place for everything (achieved not by living in a larger space, but by purging what we no longer need or want). Sometimes it can be hard to let go of toys and books that once brought us joy, but we have outgrown. And it can be hard to walk past those aisles of shiny knick-knacks and electronics in the store that we really don’t need, especially in such a materialistic culture. But we are learning together, and keeping it simple truly does increase those rich experiences that make life great.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s