The Gift

by Tom Swift

You had wanted to take the little buddy for a ride.

To the library.

On a walk.

Then grab some Italian to-go.

The intent was to leave the house. To cross a line of demarcation, between the end of work and the start of holiday.

A blizzard cancelled those plans.

Restriction. This is your gift this year: To learn to love limitations.

You were perhaps overdue to take this course in living with finite choices.

Truth is, though you are not by any modern American standard financially wealthy, when as compared to all of human history, on almost every possible measure, you are decidedly in the 1 percent.

You will not be forced — not once, ever — to start a fire to stay warm — to stay alive — during this storm. The current actual temperature outside is minus 3 degrees. It’s windy; it “feels” like 20-plus below. A few minutes ago you pressed your finger against a pad on the wall in your hallway and already the temperature in your living room went from 66 degrees to 68. Last night you had one blanket on your bed more than you needed.

You are warm and safe and still have a dizzying number entertainments at your disposal.

For nearly all of human history they could not watch thousands of movies with a couple of clicks.

They could not listen to any song.

They could not read any book.

They could not look into a screen and have the person on the other side of that screen talk back.

You are want for nothing and nearly everything you could need is at-hand or in near reach.

Few humans have been able to, as you can, travel miles in minutes to buy light bulbs. Or envelopes. Or bananas.

You won’t have a traditional dinner this year, no, but your fridge contains more food options than most humans in the course of time have experienced simultaneously at any point in their lives.

The run to the library you had planned was to pick up a book you had requested be sent to your branch from another one, an action you had recently been notified was completed, all of which occurred through a handheld device. The sum total of your effort was moving your thumbs a little bit.

That lemon chicken fettuccine you planned to pickup at the restaurant would have been ordered through a computer screen and be placed in your car without you lifting any fingers at all.

Sure, you wish you could experience the energy of a crowd. No doubt you could use more hugs. And, yep, that evening walk was needed. The dog must move.

Yet there is freedom in restriction. To remove possibilities is to open room for creativity. You are closer to the essentials when you are excluded from so many externals.

Open the fridge, turn on the oven, dinner is soon served.

You already have more books that you can read.

And you can set up a fun game of ball in the basement, complete with treats.

It’s not what you have but how much you love it.

It’s not what you do; it’s how you do it.

There is nothing stopping you from making this a very Merry Christmas.

You can’t do everything but you can do that. For sure.

Restriction is a gift that fits under every tree.