All I Want for Christmas–2018 Wish List

My wish list is goodwill and holiday cheer

by Angela Noel Lawson

December 17, 2018

Last year, I confessed I share my birthday with some pretty heavy hitters, being that I was born on Christmas Day and all. And though I may be entitled to double the gifts, I don’t want “things” for Christmas or my birthday. I want world peace and goodwill towards all (and a vacuum, but that’s a different story).

Since that kind of non-specific request tends to result in loved ones smacking their foreheads in frustration (“Yeah, but what do you want?), I decided to do what I did last year, only different. This time, I created a list of small actions that might not usher in peace for all man and womenkind, but might bring a smile to someone’s face. Smiles, as many as I can get, that’s what I want for Christmas (and my birthday). 

You can’t force it. . .

However, before I share my list, I have a quick story. About fifteen years ago my father asked for a peculiar thing for Christmas: He asked me to write him a story. At the time, I chafed at the idea.

Truth be told, I hadn’t written a creative word in years. I graduated college with the dream of becoming a writer. To pursue that goal I’d traveled to a new city, worked at a magazine, and wrote a (bad) novel. I soon realized writing was hard. Really hard. Call it the disillusionment of the quarter-life crises, but I gave up trying to be a writer and instead pursued a “real” job.

This was also around the time I met my now-ex husband. Our life did not allow for creative endeavors. I had put the writer-me in a closet and told her not to come out. So when my dad asked me to write him a story I didn’t want to. “You can’t force it,” I’d told him.

But, despite my protests I did write him that story. It probably wasn’t very good. But the act of writing it, of writing anything creative after so many years away, planted a seed. It would take me a few more years, a series of unfortunate events, and more family members saying, “It doesn’t matter if it’s good! Just write,” before I would write the first draft of a (pretty good) novel.

You see, instead of asking something from me, my father asked something of me. He saw potential in me and didn’t want that spark to die. My dad was and is invested in me and my success. The gift he asked of me was a return on that investment. He wanted, I imagine, to inspire. And he did.

So what does that have to do with my wish list? Well, I’ll tell you: I am invested in this world’s success, in my community’s success, and in the success of every human being who takes the time to read these words. It matters to me that you, that WE, succeed in bringing about a juster, kinder world. I’m asking of you a gift, a small return on that investment. You never know what dividends these things may ultimately pay.

If you do one or more of these things, please share in the comments. First, it feels good to say, “done!” and second, I’d love to hear how it felt to you to just do a little extra something. (I know you do a lot of extra somethings, but it would be awesome to do just one thing more.)

My Wish List
  1. Buy a co-worker a coffee
  2. Give someone at work an unexpected (but appropriate) compliment in the hallways
  3. Send an email of praise about someone’s great work to their boss
  4. Read anything from  Jean Lee’s World
  5. Send a text to a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile
  6. Let someone with less groceries than you go ahead of you in line
  7. Think of one small way to make yourself happy today
  8. Notice something sweet and wonderful and tell others about it
  9. Notice if you’re about to say something mean or gossipy–then don’t say it
  10. The next time someone with an opposing point of view offers his or her opinion, seek to understand rather than contradict
  11. Talk to a fellow rider in an elevator
  12. Get outside! Check out Must Hike Must Eat, Unbound Roots,  A Walk and Lark, and The Mindful Gardner for ideas
  13. Tip a barista or a waiter with extra cash
  14. Do a creative something that makes YOU feel good
  15. Make a list of everything you’re grateful for and keep it handy
  16. Ask for forgiveness
  17. Donate a little more than normal to a cause you care about
  18. Listen to new music or music you might have forgotten, but should remember. Check out M. French or Jocelyn Mackenzie, and Just Another Blog from a Woman
  19. Smile while you’re driving in traffic
  20. Take deep”belly breaths” when you feel frustrated
  21. Be kind to someone who you think has wronged you
  22. Tell a friend you love him or her
  23. Read Jeff Cann’s new book Bad Ass: My Quest to Become a Back Woods Trail Runner

Happy Holidays to you and yours. I hope you’ll find something in this list you can and want to do. But, as I learned from my dad, sometimes even if it’s not what I want to do in that moment, thinking of an action as a gift to another can make the effort worthwhile. I thank you in advance for doing one or two extra things to make the world a nicer place for us all. You are awesome.

Your turn: What ideas do you have to make the world a kinder, juster place in the coming year? 

Author: Angela Noel

On a quest to become a better human, I write about parenting, leadership, and personal development. I tell my stories so you can find your own.

42 thoughts on “All I Want for Christmas–2018 Wish List”

  1. I do 2, 5 & 22 all the time. And I need to work on 9 (gossip wise- I hope I’m never mean) and 10. It’s a work in progress at least. I’d also like to add- remember not to take other people’s actions personally. This is a major work in progress for me. And thank you darling, for the shout out.

    1. #10 is particularly hard. I think we all have to work on that one–I know I do. Thank you for being an awesome human being though. The more kindness we can give and the more times we tell friends we love them, the better. 🙂

  2. Love your list! I’ll have to pour Danny coffee this morning and compliment him before he goes to work. LOL! I texted an old friend but she cancelled. At least I made the effort!

    1. You sure did make the effort. Great job. I am sure Danny appreciated a fresh poured cup of coffee. I went skiing for the first time in 20 years this past weekend and I thought of you!

  3. Good list to follow. I love to smile at strangers (not in a creepy way). I love to give compliments to others for courtesies (like holding a door or picking something up that I’ve dropped), or because I think their shoes (or whatever) are just adorable! The reward for me is the smile, the laugh, and the sharing of that connection of human kindness that brightens my days and my life. Your suggestion about smiling while driving will probably never take hold (I live in So. Cal.). The best I can manage is not to spout my opinion of inconsiderate behavior, either verbally or manually. Happy Birthday! Happy Christmas!

    1. I wondered if you might have trouble with the traffic thing… I admit, I was thinking a bit of you and anyone living in a traffic state. I tried the smiling thing just yesterday in a crowded parking lot. Even though people might think I’m a loon, it did make me feel a little better.

  4. A great list, Angela! I find that sometimes the only way to get through the holidays with my sanity is to focus on the giving part and getting out beyond my own small circle. This year even more than others. I hope you get everything on your wishlist and it spreads to many others’ lists, as well. 🙂

  5. !! You made my jaw drop. I’m not sure what I did to deserve that, but thank you so much. The amount of thought your father put into his gift idea is somewhat alien to me. My father and I have a great, loving relationship, but he isn’t very in tune to the things that matter most to me (he could probably say the same about me). I’ll start working at your wish list. Another friend is posting the “Advent of Kindness” on Facebook (a post a day on ideas to be a good citizen of earth) so there’s a lot of good I’m supposed to be doing right now.

    1. I am so glad to be a part of any kind of goodness. It’s also so nice to hear you speak of a loving relationship with your father. That’s a great and important thing. You probably didn’t see this on my facebook post, but a friend of mine posted that she just finished doing #23. Such lovely little things that can bring smiles. 🙂

  6. You are good, Angela. You’re good because of your good heart, you’re good because you’re constantly thinking of others, you’re good because you spread goodness in the way you act, write, and believe in others, and you’re good because you’re a good friend. Thank you so very much for the mention, and I love this feel-good article you’ve written. Oh, and what a special dad you have – I’m sure he’s had a part in making you good (well, we know he has just – the story thing).

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Angela! Your photo is stunning. xoxo

    1. Thank you, friend. I do try. That’s something–just keeping on trying. My dad is a great fellow, very creative and loving in his own particular way. You and I have believing in people in common. Merry Merry Christmas to you.

  7. This is so lovely Angela. Your dad is such a star, it sounds like your gift to him was exactly what *you* needed. That is a bit of expert dad-ing. I’m not sure if “dad-ing’ is a word, but it should be 😉

    I hope you don’t mind if I add this onto the bottom of my Christmas tag post. The world we be a better place if more people think the way you do.

    1. Of course, I don’t mind lovely Josy. I liked your Christmas tag post very much. I love how you put that “expert dad-ing”… I didn’t get it at the time, but now that I’m a parent I do. I hope someday my son laments some ask I make of him only to realize later that there was love behind that request.

    1. Me too–do a few and miss a few. We’re all in this together, right? We’ll all just keep trying and do a little extra something nice. Thank you for the happy birthday wishes. Merry Christmas!

  8. I let someone ahead of me in line at the grocery store today. But then she didn’t want to and said she was fine, and then I insisted and then she stood firmer. Eventually the manager came over and made us go to separate cashiers. But it felt good! 🙂
    Merry Christmas!!

  9. Oh man, this list is BRILLIANT! That you include me is just–oh, I’m so honored. These are the kind of hope-filled moments that keep the love of the season going. Just as your father encouraged your potential, so you encourage the potential in all of us to be better souls. Thank you for all you do! xxxxxxxx

    1. What a lovely comment! I admire your writing and your parenting, how could I not include you? I think sometimes it can be so simple to create a better world–if everyone was just a little bit nicer on purpose. But, as an old boss of my used to say, “it’s so simple, it’s hard.” If we can all just do a little, maybe that will do a lot. Or that’s my theory anyway. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

    2. Aw, shucks, thank you!

      Your old boss’ point is perfect. Case in point: earlier this month, Blondie helped her brothers write Christmas wish lists for themselves. When they finished, she asked what else she could do. “How about you make a list of presents you could give instead of get?” I asked. She looked utterly stumped. The season’s so wired with receiving and *expecting* generosity that it never occurs to some that *they* can be sources of generosity if they try. So your post is perfect for this time. A blessed Christmas to you and yours! xxxxx

  10. Your dad sounds like a very wise soul, Angela, what a gift! What has happened so far with that novel?

    I love your suggestions, and will try to implement as many as I can over Christmas.

    I spent a long time in the car yesterday, so I played all my music on shuffle and thought of the person or people that each song made me think about. It was amazing how many different people this brought up: many who I am no longer in touch with. I sent them my warm thoughts! And then I thought that if there are so many people I care about, the world is just a huge network of people who care, and wish one another well.

    Thank you for the shout-out. I am honoured to be included.

    1. The novel is on permanent hiatus. The fact is, though I saw some very preliminary interest in it from literary agents, I just didn’t love it enough to want to see it through to the end. And that’s okay. I realized for it to be successful I’d really need to love it, and I didn’t. It became a house I didn’t want to live in anymore. But I wouldn’t trade all the things I learned and experiences I had during those years of writing and networking and researching for the world. All good things.

      I am delighted you like my list and will give a few of them a try. I am certain you do all kinds of good things–like your car play list exercise. What an excellent idea. I think sending good wishes, love and warm thoughts is itself a kind of gift. If it doesn’t change the person we’re thinking about, at the very least it stirs love in our hearts. And that’s a good thing for sure. I love your realization too–we are all connected and that’s amazing. I hear a Ted Talk by AJ Jacobs on his adventure to thank everyone everywhere involved in making his favorite cup of coffee. His realization about how global effort is required to produce just one cup of coffee reminds me of your car-time-musings.
      Thank you for being an inspiration to me and always so thoughtful.

      1. That is a very healthy attitude. Writing is a process, not a result. I think being published is about luck, and it is good to recognise that. I for one love your writing; you are a natural story-teller, able to make an emotional connection with your reader.

        1. I think you’re right about luck. I knew that if I didn’t feel fully committed, even if luck came my way I might not have had it in my to catch the ride. But, who knows what will happen with the next novel? Whenever I manage to write it. I’m so interested in personal narrative and essay right now, I’m chasing that muse instead.
          Thank you so much for the complement too. The feeling is mutual. 🙂

  11. Angela – your dad offered you a beautiful gift but the fact that YOU responded to his request tells so much about your love for him. What a beautiful relationship you must have shared. As for the gift list, except for those related to co-workers, I tend to follow most of these regularly (not always perfectly) – but I believe we can all use reminders. The one I need to more consciously remind myself of is how I respond when people cut me off, fly by me, or act rudely in traffic. I try to remember that they may have a serious emergency that I know nothing about. I try to give the benefit of the doubt as I’d hope others would me if I did the same. I try to remember. I think if more people could remember this more often, the world would be a kinder place. As for #10 – coming from a VERY diversely opinionated family in the areas of politics and religion, we have always listened to one another but we don’t always respond so kindly. 🙂

    1. You know, I have to think about the traffic one all the time too. It’s just so easy to sit in my own bubble and get frustrated. I did practice smiling the other day when I was in traffic, and I swear it made me feel better.
      I’m so glad you like the list. I am lucky to have a dad that invests in me. We definitely don’t see eye to eye, but there is a lot of love and that can make all the difference.
      Happy Holidays!

  12. #9…This past year I’ve made it a point to steer away from negative or gossipy conversations. It’s difficult though when your loved ones are the instigators. But thanks for the reminder. Just means I have to try harder.

    Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. It is heard to steer away from the negative and the gossipy. Good for you for making the effort. I also struggle with this sometimes. And at the most unexpected moments. I often find that when I feel insecure, it’s much much easier to get sucked in. I admire your efforts.

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