The Seligkeitsding

When I was a kid – and at this time of the year I often think about life when I was still a kid – my mum used to ask me what I wished for for my birthday.  For the normal presents,  she would make me write a list a week before my birthday,  so that she would have enough time to buy whatever I desired.  But the night before my birthday,  she would ask me for my “Seligkeitsding”.

Roughly translated,  a Seligkeitsding is an object of bliss,  but trust me when I say that there is a lot lost in translation. A Seligkeitsding  is that one present you love most of all your presents,  but it’s even more.  It’s something you’ve always wanted but never knew you wanted,  something you couldn’t even put into words, something you wished for so badly -and thinking you would never get it – that because you wanted it so badly you buried all thoughts of it deep in your soul.  It’s an object you’d never thought you’d possess,  something so arbitrary but yet at the same time something so characteristic of who you are or of who you wish to be.

My mother would listen to me talk about all the things I imagined could be my Seligkeitsding and she would smile the whole time.  And on my birthday,  she would take me shopping and she would buy my Seligkeitsding. It was never what I thought it would be,  but it always was just the perfect present.


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