In my family, holiday wish lists are kind of a big deal. They're a ritual of sorts: twice a year--T minus one month at Christmas and birthday--you'd better know what you want, or risk pointed e-mails and/or probing phone calls and/or the traditional threat of receiving only a blow-up raft on Christmas morning. We consider it a helpful gesture (for the gifters) and an insurance policy (for the giftee), and we don't mess around with it.
As a kid, my list was really more like a wish spreadsheet: Item (purple hoop earrings), Location (Claire's or similar), Price ($9.00?), Notes (Really really really want these!!!). My brother still divides his into categories: Books, Music, Movies, Miscellaneous. My dad just calls his "Cool CDs," knowing that letting us all loose in the Classical section of Best Buy without a guide is only asking for trouble, not to mention the wrong edition of The Four Seasons for him.
August is my birthday month--meaning I'm running late already--and in a sense, this year's list is not that hard. It's not like I don't want things. I wouldn't, for example, say no to interchangeable circular knitting needles, nor would I turn up my nose at a pretty and functional enameled Dutch oven, the Nigella of the cookware world. My Etsy Favorites is full of adorable things, and I'm happy to give my username and password to anybody looking for some whimsical gift ideas.
But there's a certain point where the list stops being about cookware (I'm so old, you guys) and starts being about all the things I really want but that don't wrap well--the things that aren't things, or that are things, but my family can't provide them without spending lots of extra time in their secret science lab/villainous lair. And I wouldn't want to put that kind of burden on them, you know?
And so I present my Alternative Birthday List 2009 (What I Really Want):
Extra hours in the day
Woman of Leisure status
Functioning teleportation device
Time speeder-upper/slower-downer device
Adoring and efficient literary agent (preferably television, but open to alternatives)
Daily clothes/hair stylist (Tim Gunn or similar)
John Krasinski in hot pursuit
And, of course, World Peace.
But I still wouldn't mind the Dutch oven.