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The Globe and Mail

At 6 I wanted toys. At 52 I'll settle for my memory back

jason logan The Globe and Mail

As Christmas approaches, my thoughts turn to the inevitable request for a wish list.

When I was young, Sears had a fall/winter catalogue and then, separate and more than 100 pages long, the Christmas Wish Book. It was nirvana for little kids. We'd sit and plow through it over and over, considering the merits of each toy as if we might actually get all of them.

I could never quite understand why those pipe-smoking dads only got shirts, ties, urbane-looking PJs and equally urbane-looking robes. Let alone why any self-respecting mother would want an iron for Christmas. Some poinsettia-emblazoned plate perhaps or, later in time, clear glasses with red poinsettia leaves along the top – the apex of sophistication in the suburban seventies – but definitely not an iron.

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Now that I'm 52, I find my mind still turns – like my eight-year-old brain used to – to this year's wish list. Since I know that I'm hard to buy for – or at least that's what my family told me when they gave me five winter scarves last year, although I still have but one neck – I thought I'd do them all a service and share my wish list.

On the cover of Celia's Wish Book, there should be a picture of me – Photoshopped, of course, to remove a size or two from my perimenopausal hips. I should be dressed for Christmas in something svelte, sophisticated and sparkly with absolutely no food stains on it. (When my child was little, I could blame her. I have no clear explanation, however, for the past 5 or so years).

I will be holding a glass of red wine in my hand and my face will still be its normal colour – not that blotchy red it's started to turn whenever I drink red wine.

Most important of all, my face will look relaxed, as if I'm having carefree fun. Not that twitchy look sometimes seen around Christmastime that says I'm pretending I'm having carefree fun, but the vegetables are overcooked and the turkey isn't cooking fast enough, my child has littered the floor with wheeled toys so no one can walk through without popping an insurance claim, and did you remember that Mom is a diabetic and needs to eat on time?

On the first page of Celia's Wish Book, there will be a memory for sale, specifically my memory. There will be no price because it turns out that memory, like true love, is something we sometimes don't value enough until it's gone. "Your memory back: Priceless."

Somewhere near the front, there will be a selection of clothes, all of which will make me look hip (but not hippy) and trendy in a way that says I'm still cool, but mature enough to know which styles not to follow to the extreme.

All of them will instantly restore my waist to where I'm sure it once was, without need of a body-shaping garment you have to wrestle yourself into and that will make you need to go to the bathroom the second you've pulled it up, even if you are still in the bathroom.

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They'll be made of a fabric that keeps me warm all two days of the year when it might be a bit chilly (didn't we used to have winter before I became perimenopausal?). On the other hand, the fabric will never make me have a hot flash, even when I'm wearing my winter coat on a bus in January with a bus driver wearing short sleeves who's turned the heat up.

All of these clothes will be no-iron. No irons in my Wish Book! Best of all, they'll be Teflon-coated to repel those stains from the food that mysterious strangers have taken to dropping on me when I'm not paying attention.

On the next page, there will be glasses that actually help me see. Not the kind where you look at the computer screen and start lifting your head up, then down, over and over, like some middle-aged, life-sized bobble head, looking for the one magic millimetre of lens that will actually let you see the screen.

As to the next page ... what was I going to put there? My memory's driving me nuts these days. Are you finding the same thing? I'll just have to write another note when I....

Oh yes, I remember.

Magic shoes. The kind with heels like I haven't worn in 15 (okay, 20) years. Shoes that will make me feel taller and cooler and have nothing whatsoever to do with practicality but that look really good when you're dancing. With red soles. Like Oprah.

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And, almost last but not least, I'd like a page devoted to restoring the hearing in my right ear. Is it too much to ask that I be able to hear what my tweenaged child is saying when she's telling me that I've ruined her life? Will I never know what I (allegedly) did wrong this time?

The back cover will be all the Christmas wishes we seem to have lost in our electronic, me-first world. World peace, enough food for everyone, shelter for all, freedom from violence, no person left without love. Logic says getting the rest of my Wish Book in its entirety would be easier than that, but wishes can't be fulfilled if they're never spoken out loud.

That's pretty much it for me. If you can't Teflon-coat some temperature-control clothes, give me my memory back or bring about world peace this year, how about we just skip the gifts and count our blessings?

Although a little surprise never went awry.

But no scarves.

Celia Hitch lives in Toronto.

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