Well Christmas of 2014 is finally upon us! I can only imagine that most of you probably feel the same way as me about the energy of Christmas. It always seemed to be more fun as a kid.
I have a 13-year-old daughter who — of course — no longer believes in the physical existence of Santa Claus. So I never sneak aroundf placing gifts under or around the tree as she sleeps during the early hours of Christmas mornings. I no longer take a couple of bites of the cookie that used to be left for Santa on a saucer next to a glass of milk that I would usually end up pouring down the drain (since room-temperature milk just simply does not seem that great!). And we no longer take her to see Santa in the malls. No, Isabella is a bit too old for that.
I guess I used to do these things for her and my step-daughters because they were things that I used to enjoy as a kid. Part of me did it all because I wanted to give them the same sense of Christmas enjoyment that I used to get from my parents. The other part of me feels the obligation to do so as part of a family tradition. And I hope that my daughter and step-daughters end up following suit as well.
But the fun I derived as a parent could not compare to what it was as a child. I remember my Mom rushing me off to bed. Sometimes, I would wake up in the middle of the night and try to bust Santa putting the gifts under the tree. But it would all be the same as it had been before I went to bed. Sometime after I returned to bed and later woke up, my mother would have worked her Christmas magic of adding all of “Santa’s gifts” to those that were already under the tree.
I also remember huge family gatherings with not only my grandparents, but also aunts, uncles, and cousins! Massive amounts of food (turkey and dressing, jellied cranberry, ham, black-eyed peas, mashed potatoes and gravy, green-bean casserole, broiled cabbage, sweet potatos, and other such fine fixings!) would be spread about the center of my grandmother’s large, cherry-wood table. Chairs would be brought in from other rooms and sometimes other homes. We kids would always sit in the living room on the floor, eating at the coffee table. The sounds of Elvis’s Christmas music would be playing in the background. My grandmother was a HUGE Elvis fan as we all lived in Memphis at the time. My personal favorite was Blue Christmas.
My cousins and I would joke around. I remember one time making fun of my grandfather behind his back (he tended to always be a grumpy stick in the mud). His teeth had fallen out; when he would eat Christmas dinner, it was funny to watch his lower jawbone almost go completely up into his sinal cavity! I pointed it out to my big brother and sister and my cousins before I started imitating it myself. We all laughed and were quite merry at these events, the way we were supposed to be.
I remember some of my all-time favorite toys I got for Christmas as a kid, all of them now misplaced and gone. A Star Trek transporter and the Captain Kirk and Mister Spock action figures that came with it that would fit in the transport chamber; a Back-Trac remote controlled futuristic tank; a die-cast replica of James Bond’s Aston Martin DB-V, complete with gadgets like the bullet-proof pop-up shield, front-mounted machine guns, and a working ejector seat (complete with the Korean fellow who always flew out of the top of it!); a Merlin electronic toy that allowed me to play memory games, tick-tack-toe, and a bunch of other cool activities. I remember the joy of handing the gifts out to each family member to whom it was tagged; and most importantly, I remember opening my own gifts!
I also remember riding my new bike around the neighborhood with my friends as we all enjoyed celebrating the daytime hours afterward. I would go over to their house, see what all they got; and they would do the same with me.
Yes, Christmas was always much more fun as a kid. But as I got older, I suddenly realized that Santa was not the reason for Christmas; it’s Jesus! It was all about honoring his birth — the fact that he was born to a virgin mother only to be crucified when he reached his 30s…all so that sinners like you and me could be forgiven our sins by God and accepted into Heaven.
In my eyes, there is nothing wrong with getting caught up in the fun of Christmas; but let’s not remember the TRUE reason for CHRISTmas.