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I now know exactly what I would like for Christmas this year. My kind husband is never sure of what to get me, so he usually asks me what I would like. As a good wife that I like to think that I am, I used to tell him that I would be happy with whatever present he gives me. Over the years, as our marriage has grown, I have given up on leaving him hints or hoping he chooses something nice, so I now just tell him what I want and what I need. Yes, what I want is sometimes not practical or helpful, so I will be honest and say that I don’t usually get what I want as a Christmas present. I am glad though that he does not always book flights to Tobago whenever I say I want a holiday!

This year, I have decided that what I want is a “digital shoe sorter”. This is the name I have given to the gift I desire. I am not sure if it exists, but you will agree after my explanation that it should. This amazing Christmas present should come with a complementary pair of pretty shoes and have the capacity to hold at least sixty pairs of shoes. There should be one opening for putting shoes into it after a long day, and the shoe sorter should automatically ‘file’ them in the right place at the touch of a button. Most importantly, the shoe sorter should be able to search for shoes by colour and type, so that people do not have to look for the second one after they have made up their minds which pair they want to wear.

As I write this, I wonder how many people are thinking that I just need a well organised walk-in closet instead. It is not the same thing – I tell you. A walk-in closet will require for me to return the shoes in the right place every day and come back to that same place to pick them up next time I want them. When I was single, that worked. Now, with a family of four, I still remember to put my shoes away neatly, but not everyone else does so. What then happens is that “other people’s” shoes get thrown in with my shoes and the closet becomes a mess for when you want to find those red shoes you definitely remember buying, but have not worn in a while. My amazing shoe sorter should be able to bring up an image of all red shoes and narrow down the search to ‘women’s low heels’, if needed. Wouldn’t that be great?!

On a more serious note though, I did imagine this amazing gadget while looking for my shoe one day, but immediately remembered that it is such a blessing just to have more than one pair of shoes. It is an even bigger blessing to have feet that can move and places to go to. And I feel very blessed to have a family that can make a mess for me to sort out. We are always looking for ways to make life easier and better for ourselves and our families, but I think that what we really need is contentment and a grateful heart in any stage of life. If we are not happy with two pairs of shoes, we will not be happy even with one hundred pairs and a ‘shoe sorter’. If we cannot make a peaceful home in a small flat, a mansion will not make it any better. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do better and have more, but our possessions (or lack of them) should not define us. Joy comes from within and happiness can come from the most unexpected places.

My friend once shared how her mother used to tell her to look up and out, whenever she felt down. I think that is one of the best things anyone can do to help themselves feel better in tough times. When we stop focusing on ourselves and what we want or are going through, we can see the needs of others and derive joy from being there for them too. As the good book says, 'it is more blessed to give than to receive'. Looking up and out helps me see solutions to problems, or to realise that things could be worse, life is not that bad and it is not all about me. I expect good things, aim higher and try to do better daily, but what I really want is to also be content and grateful always.

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