What I got for Christmas: Turning Superficial Gifts into Meaningful Memories
Our stuff is who we are. Don't get me wrong, I realize how superficial that sounds, but it's not.
I know we can't take our stuff with us when we go. I know we live in an often materialistic world. And I realize that it's people who make our lives worth living, not our stuff.
But could our stuff mean more to us than we think it does?
Is there a way to take a meaningful look at something so superficial?
When I was a kid, I loved Christmas. One year, in the late 80s, I got a gift that would change the course of my future.
I don't remember if I'd asked for it (I probably begged), or if my parents got it for me (showing great wisdom and foresight for my future), but I got a Super Nintendo!
A normal Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) this was not. This special edition had Duck Hunt (with the gun), Track and Field (with the running pad) and Super Mario Bros. all in one!
My life has never been the same.
But these are all just things, right?
Yes and no.
Yes, our gadgets, games, shoes and accessories are just things. They're here today, fun for a time, and forgotten tomorrow.
However, I believe our things can mean more to us and can be more than superficial objects that are meaningless.
Have I lost you yet?
Let me give you a few examples.
One year, a few years after getting my SNES, I got my sister Jet Moto to play on the PlayStation. What that really meant was I got it for me, and she got to play it too.
On the surface, this is a superficial gift. But to me, a game meant more.
Jet Moto meant time to spend with my little sister. It meant competition and fun. Today, fifteen years later, I can still remember listening to Matchbox 20 while racing around an ice track with my sisters for hours on end.
A few years ago, my father-in-law got me some cigars for Christmas. Talk about here one minute and gone the next!
But to me, cigars aren't superficial things. I didn't see this gift as him buying me things.
He and I both know cigars symbolize relaxing outside while reading a book. They enable me to slow down and have a conversation with someone. And they allow me to enjoy something he picked out for me.
This year, just a few days ago, I used my Christmas money to buy an Xbox One and several games.
Maybe. Well, probably.
But remember my Christmas from the 80s?
Video games allow me to explore the creativity of the artists behind the games. They allow me to connect with friends who are hundreds of miles away as if they were right there on my couch. They allow my wife and me to take a twenty-hour journey together as we play Borderlands.
Video games, for me, aren't (completely) superficial. They mean a lot more than just cool graphics or fast action.
This holiday season I've played a lot of RYSE, Forza, Killzone, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Madden and a few more. These games become a part of who I am and provide a needed break from blogging and podcasting.
My friend Dan just posted about where to put a piano in the new house he bought.
He wants to turn his house into a home.
He wants to put his piano, which would be something superficial for me, somewhere it would hold meaning for him.
See, Dan loves music. He writes it; he plays it, and he lives it. Dan is an artist.
We each find meaning in what other people may find superficial. The problem is when we confuse the meaning behind the object with the object itself.
My games aren't friends, and they aren't quality time with my wife.
Dan's piano isn't music or time with his daughter.
All of these superficial things only hold the meaning we give them and only are tools we use to create the meaningful experiences we enjoy so much.
We surround ourselves with things that mean a lot to us. They are part of who we are. But they aren't who we are.
Question: What did you get for Christmas? Do those things hold special meaning to you or remind you of your childhood?