If you're like me and are of a certain age, your Christmas list shrinks every year. My husband and I promised each other early on that power tools and kitchen gadgets were not personal gifts. They were things for the household; if we really needed them, we should save up and buy them, not pass them off as holiday presents.
Fast forward almost forty-one years and we can't count how many times we've broken this rule out of necessity. Every year, we struggle to come up with ideas for things we truly need.
Bill has a "uniform;" he wears a t-shirt, a flannel shirt, and jeans. And a belt, always a belt, as if his pants will fall off his still thirty-inch-waist. He has so many t-shirts that, years ago, I forbade the purchase of new ones. He wears them until they fray, and they become "work shirts." Next stop is the rag bag. Only then may he retrieve a replacement from a large plastic bin in the attic. If he lives to be one hundred, the bin will never empty.
As for me, I mostly wear the same outfits and simple jewelry every day. Once I learned where most jewels come from and whose little hands are made to dig them (look it up), my husband lost the opportunity to give me fancy jewelry.
So, what's on my Christmas Wishlist?
I wish that Blenda, a little girl in Uganda, will continue her education and not be pulled from school too early, as many girls in the missions are, due to lack of sanitation. If she misses enough school, her parents may decide it's not worth sending her back and marry her off too young.
I wish that Bishop Don Lippert in Mendi, Papua New Guinea could have more solar panel installed so that his catechist training center won't have to depend on the unreliable government electrical grid; the power goes out randomly and may stay out for hours or days.
I wish that more people would use The Society for the Propagation of the Faith's Christmas cards and enroll their loved ones, living or deceased, as members of the Society. For an offering of $5, enrollees become the intention of 15,000 Masses celebrated throughout the coming year in the missions and a daily one at the Vatican. To order, call 617-542-1776, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go online to www.propfaitboston.org, click on Propagation of the Faith, then Enrollments/Mass Cards.
What could be better than a gift of prayers and Mass intentions while helping to fulfill a missionary's wishlist? The cost is $5. The benefits? Eternal.
- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.