(Photo Credit to beautiful friend Rachel who captured this sight at the Zoo Lights). 
The older I get, the more I realize that in life, I want people and not things.
When I was younger, I would start crafting my delicately planned and detailed Christmas list as soon as October. Listing book after movie, followed by Wii games, the latest gadget, and clothes, you’d be surprised how in-depth one could be with there longed for items. Placing a delicate picture beside of each item as well as the price, store, website link, and where to find them, I recall lists way over 10 pages long and more than 100 items.
Now of course, I realized as a child that I would never receive all of these items that my heart so called “desired”, however, it was just really fun for me to make the list and then be completely surprised by what I would receive Christmas morning.
As I began to grow up though, the lists began to shorten, and the items changed. I outgrew the video games and latest technology facades. The desire for movies and books was replaced with the realization that I could simply rent or borrow them and save a whole lot of trees and money. And the list; well, it became smaller and almost nonexistent to the point that two weeks before Christmas, my parents had no idea what to get me because when they asked me what I wanted I would reply, “I don’t want anything for Christmas. I just want to help and serve other people”.
Now long story short, I did eventually squirm out a few things I wouldn’t mind receiving, and on Christmas morning, I was given way more than I ever deserved or asked for, but on the inside, my heart still remained the same: I longed to simply give to others and make them happy, rather than fulfill anything my own selfish desires would long for. And this brought back an old but favorite memory of mine.
From around the ages of 8-15, my Dad and I would go Black Friday shopping the day after Thanksgiving. We would scope out all the ads the night before, load up the truck with a list, snacks, and supplies and barely sleep a wink to get up at 4am and stand in line at Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Menards (You fill in the blank) for these now newfangled and most desired items wanted by thousands of individuals. Racing through Wal-Mart with a dysfunctional cart, to searching for the last pair of fuzzy socks at Kohl’s, this was a tradition my Dad and I looked forward to every year. But then, he got placed on disability and became very sick so the trips stopped. The old memories resurfaced and the new ones became nothing more than yesterday’s past.
As the years between ages 15-21 began to creep by, year after year I missed this memory. I missed getting up at 3am and not sleeping the night before. I missedracing through the stores looking to find the biggest and best steals of deals that I could find. But in all actuality, it wasn’t those bargains that I missed the most, but the person I spent it with. The laughs we shared as my wide eyes and crazy hair reflected my 24-hour sleep deprivation the next day. The smiles of pictures we took in the miles of lines outside the store parking lots. Everything but the piles of bags in the backseat and all the money we probably blew on needless shenanigans of items and gifts.
Flashback to Thanksgiving 2017, God gave me this realization. That perhaps the older I get, the more I realize that I want peoplein my life and the memories shared with them over any amount of bargain deals, or presents under the tree. That if I could trade in 100 presents for 100 hours of added time to this life I would. And that if I could trade in anything monetary I would receive this year in exchange for relationships built with others I would great-fully do so in a heartbeat. That if I could make this world realize how worthless every temporary pleasure we desire really is and how worthy every person’s life we change/influence/impact/pray for is instead I would act like Santa Claus and grant the wishes that would make them realize this happiness.
Because this year, I’m learning to treat the holidays a lot more like memories to treasure rather than lists and number of items to receive: To focus on the most important person in my life (God), and how this holiday and all holidays are a true reflection of our thanksgiving/adoration/and relationship with Him. More than anything we could ever buy, obtain, or long for, He fulfills the epitome of what our true hearts desires really are.
This year, I’m asking for relationship with others. To build friendships and see people I care about saved.I’m asking for experiences, and memories. Pictures to treasure in my mind and foundations built upon. Peoples live that I can be the hands and feet of Jesus to, and likewise for those people to pour into my life as well. I’m realizing that I want people and not things, and that’s what I know my heart is truly searching for.