Existential Essentials

The holidays used to throw me into a tizzy when our kids were little. There were four of them, and we let them ask for three things each, just like the number of the Wise Men’s gifts. I may have been an English major, but even I can multiply. And then there were stocking stuffers and other odds and ends, which resulted in large charges on our credit cards.

We’ve come to our senses now, with too many in-laws and grandchildren to buy individual gifts for. The grandkids usually get money unless they’re still young enough for toys, and we do a Yankee swap for the adults with a cash limit. I try to buy something that I’d like for myself, just in case I wind up with it, LOL.

I am inundated with “stuff.” Before we moved here three years ago, I wore a path to Goodwill to give away a ton of household and personal items, and I did a big free yard non-sale this summer. But there is still too much in the Robinson household. My desk is a disgrace, with hard candy, dog breath bites, Mucinex, gummy vitamins, and 22 notepads lifted from hotels amongst the detritus. I need Marie Kondo in the worst way. Nothing is sparking joy, and I wonder if the mess is depressing my creativity.

I am surrounded by non-essentials. Which makes me think about little luxuries I’d really hate to do without. I don’t want diamond rings or expensive perfumes or cocktail dresses. Or cocktails, for that matter. But I do like scented soaps, face creams, and illustrated coffee table books featuring gardens and historic houses. Cold bottled water. The occasional can of real, hi-test Coca-Cola. I have an unfortunate addiction to lipstick, and have been on a half-century search for the perfect shade. I also have a weakness for Christmas decorations. Like money in the bank, my Kindle has 105 pages of mostly unread books just waiting for me to commit.

That’s pretty much it in terms of “things.” When it comes to writing, I need quiet and privacy, except for that dog with bad breath, who sleeps in the desk keyhole on top of my feet. No playlist, no TV. A working Internet connection is of course necessary, so I can find out how much 100 English pounds in 1923 are worth in today’s money. I’m in the process of killing my third swivel chair since 2019, and I’m not entirely sure how long my computer’s going to last, but the rolltop desk is in good shape. Except for all the crap on it.

I’ll have to do some cleaning before the family comes. The kids like to play Roblox on my computer and even they will be appalled at the current state of the desk. But seeing them will be much better than all the life clutter, closet contents, and cosmetics combined. And I can take time off from writing and not feel guilty, too.

What “little thing” would you like to find in your stocking? Have a warm and wonderful holiday season.

For more info about Maggie and her books, please visit www.maggierobinson.net


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16 Responses to Existential Essentials

  1. John Clark says:

    This is the year I finally told everyone I do not want anything. Instead, donate to the Waterville Police Department’s Hope fund. It’s used as a no questions asked money source for people who are alcoholics or addicts and want help. Takes up no room, dusts easily and has no expiration date

  2. A good perspective on navigating the season!

  3. luvoliver says:

    This is an awesome post! I can certainly relate to everything you have written here. I am not alone in having a household with WAY too much stuff, an inability to get rid of it all, and I have three dogs who insist on sitting on my lap breathing their bad breath in my face. I guess the struggle is real for many of us…

    • maggierobinsonwriter says:

      There is nothing like hot dog breath…to make you leave the room, LOL. But we do love them, don’t we?

  4. Kate Flora says:

    Oh boy. My desk, and office, are disaster areas. I joke that I live in “book time” so that I can set something down and not get back to it for a year. Whole lotta that going on in my office right now. I had hoped the quiet Covid years would be great for putting things in order but alas, no. What I want right now won’t fit in a stocking…an efficient assistant who would sort, file, and mail, please…

    • maggierobinsonwriter says:

      Ditto. But I can see myself arguing, “But I might neeeed that someday” as the efficient assistant opens up the trashbag!

  5. kaitcarson says:

    Fountain pens, just fountain pens, and maybe some inks. My desk looks like Maggie’s but hey, pens don’t take up much space and you never have a fully charged one when you need it.

  6. maggierobinsonwriter says:

    Ooh! I haven’t used a fountain pen in ages. I remember inky fingers very well!

  7. KarenM says:

    Have you tried Lipstick Queen Frog Prince? It comes in a tube looking like green wax and turns into the perfect pink for each person, according to their advertisement. When I don’t know what color to select, I use that…

  8. tempewytch says:

    Hmm scented candles – I love them burning on my desk when I am sat at the computer!

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