Hindsight is always 20/20. But it seems to me that Christmas is very special two times in your life. Those are when you’re a kid and when you’re a parent.
For me, my family 1960s Christmases were pretty good. Like all kids then, I had toy lust and couldn’t wait for the holiday season to begin the day after Halloween. In fact, to this day the holidays don’t start for me until I watch “The Great Pumpkin.” The buildup at school and home was excruciatingly slow until the week before Christmas. Then it seemed to take on a time zone all its own.
On the morning, if we were spending Christmas at home (sometimes we traveled and spent it with family. Like the time my mom put our station wagon, on the way home after Christmas in Florida, into a ditch in Georgia. Nobody was hurt but all the presents in the trunk were subsumed in swamp muck), my dad would call to us from downstairs and we’d hurry down to see him clad in pajamas and a robe, cigarette hanging from his mouth, ready to dispense presents. He and my mom would trade presents first. Then we’d give my dad and mom our presents, which were usually cheap cologne my dad would never wear and gloves or slippers for mom. Dad, of course, had paid for those presents. Even for the ones to him. Then my sister and I ripped into our presents like ravenous hyenas. Those were wonderful mornings.
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As I became a parent in my mid 20s, I recaptured some of that magic. My three sons, and later my three daughters (no, they did not undergo gender changes. 6 kids, two marriages), had just as much gift lust as I had decades before, but for far different gifts. Whereas I had longed for a Billy Blastoff or a Johnny Lightening set, their computer related games and machines took an MIT PhD to put together. Since I have a BA from Maryland this could prove problematic. I eventually put them together in ten times the amount of time others would probably have taken. I don’t think my kids noticed one way or another. Like all kids and parents on Christmas morning, we were just happy to be together with the people we loved more than anything in the world. I hope you have that kind of Christmas too.