It’s hard to imagine being a kid and looking at any day with the same anticipation as Christmas. Halloween holds its own place, but somehow December 25th makes candy and costumes feel insignificant. Not only does a kid receive a bunch of presents but writes up a wish list and sends it directly to the man himself. The month is full of parties and decorations, wacky music and crazy movies, but everything revolves around the great miracle that comes after heading to sleep on Christmas Eve.
Most of the excitement comes from the fact that children don’t have very much freedom. School starts right when they start talking and 50% of their time is immediately gone. That’s not to say they could use that time more productively. Kids aren’t allowed to work and don’t have many employable qualities. Completely dependent on their parents, their first opportunity to choose whatever they want might be their wish list. Hopes and dreams turned into the reality of a new Playstation is nothing short of miraculous. But in time the anticipation dies. The big morning turns to a big afternoon. Decorations, shows, and food become more unforgettable than the presents. But not before the gifts. The gifts come first.
Eventually, new video games and clothes are a few paychecks away. But before that happens, when the gifts still matter, the entire month of December is full of excitement. Kids work hard to get on the Nice List, raising the spirits of everyone in the process. Meanwhile, eggnog hits the shelves, streets are illuminated, and gingerbread architecture takes shape. Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby play a soundtrack that would never fly in the summer and terrible travel conditions become slight hiccups to the holiday itinerary.
The single focus on gifts disguises the greatest parts of the holidays but when the gifts are stripped away, what remains is the best of the season. Each tradition helps us return to the that wonderful feeling of anticipation. Below are some thoughts concerning two of the biggest, most important areas of the holiday season. Hopefully these can be useful in the next few weeks.
Sometimes a loved one needs something. Whether they know it or not, you can fill a gap in their life with the perfect gift. But many people don’t need much. They’d like to have some new things, but don’t need them. So instead, get something they wouldn’t possibly get for themselves. The entire idea of a gift is positive, there is no way to go wrong. You aren’t buying necessities. Swing for the fences, Christmas isn’t for holding back.
My personal advice is to get gifts that you want. If you care about the person, and they feel the same, spread the love. The mark of a good gift is whether I would to buy it for myself. Sometimes I get two, like the coffee mug I got for my friend’s birthday. Other times I have to wince at the idea of giving away such an amazing product. That’s when I know it’s good.
Most of us live for holiday feasting. Candy canes, gingerbread men, and eggnog are as Christmasy as five golden rings. Just the site of eggs benedict makes me think of Christmas morning. My suggestion is to get involved in the cooking. There’s an endless source of holiday recipes online that might become a new holiday tradition. And if it tastes awful, who cares, let the holiday cheer sweep that junk right into the disposal. With so much time on your hands, so many good people around, and hopefully some decent food you can depend on, take a chance with that homemade Pecan Pie. It can’t be worse than the supermarket.
The corporate state of Christmas gets a lot of heat these days. I enjoy Christmas now as much as ever. Despite the gifts? I think it’s because of the gifts.