It is always about the gift.
I know folks that will tell you otherwise. They get caught up in the music. Or the eggnog. Or the little chocolate Santas. Or the fake snowflakes stuck to the window. And my goodness, let’s don’t even get started on the lights…..
I wasn’t no expert when Leon shook me awake on those long ago Christmas mornings and excitedly proclaimed, “Santa has come!” But I can tell you with absolute certainty as I hopped over the floor furnace and raced into the living room I wasn’t thinking about mystical sleigh bell rides, reindeer dashing across the sky or that good will toward men stuff—I was sliding headfirst under our fairly ordinary looking tree hoping with all my might that that biggest present shoved over in the far corner had my name on it!
You haven’t lived until you’ve opened a round box of Lincoln Logs! Fifty-four pieces! I built houses, look-out towers, forts, corrals, Pony Express stations……and on slow winter afternoons, David Mark and I would hide behind either end of the sofa and throw them at each other!
Oh sure, even as a tot, I went along with the whole “Christmas thing.” I’d eat the chocolate Santa; even enjoyed it. We’d build a snowman if just half an inch fell. I wasn’t big on caroling but I learned most of the words to “Deck the Halls” and “Come All Ye Faithful”.
I joined in the Christmas tree cutting down melee. Mom would send Leon and me and David out with one admonishment, “Cut it off of Mr. Archie’s land, he will not mind.”
Leon, of course, made me carry the ax. After we scaled the big ditch, skirted the pond, tried to electrocute a gold finch on the hot cattle fence and wandered a ways down the railroad track, I wasn’t sure if we were still on Archie Moore’s property or not. Leon, of course, picked out the tree. We’d take turns with the ax. Then Leon would, of course, make me and David double team the heavy end as we drug it back home.
Dave, the youngest and perhaps the smartest, would do a little admonishing of his own, “Next year, how ’bout we find a tree a little closer to the house!”
So you see, I went through the motions. I’d even do my part stringing the pop corn……maybe the most boring aspect of Christmas ever! I tossed my share of silver tinsel up over the green branches. I actually liked those lights with the oil that kinda bubbled when they got warmed up.
But the excitement flowed around the gift. Nothing else!
The Western Flyer bicycles weren’t even wrapped. Dave and I had them out in the snow, before daylight, racing down Stonewall Street. I’m telling you, new bikes trumped Silver Bells, Christmas cards, nutmeg, boughs of holly, mistletoe, that little drummer boy AND a partridge in a pear tree!
I remember the Timex watch like it was yesterday. Shock proof, anti-magnetic, red sweep second hand, glowed in the dark. I was twelve years old. And it was a grownup gift. Can you imagine how my heart beat? To this day, it is the second greatest Christmas gift ever!
I dated the rich girl from Paris one winter. Her dad was a doctor. They owned half the land stretching along both sides of the highway heading down toward the Tennessee River. Now, you talk about getting excited. I figured this was going to be a Christmas to remember forever!
She could buy me near ’bout anything in the world! I started around Thanksgiving dropping hints about Browning automatics, vintage Seth Thomas Calendar Clocks, red Corvettes…….
We all grow and mature. Here I am, with a lifetime of experience and a family of my own. And I know what you’re thinking: I’ve seen the error of my ways. I’ve done a 180 degree turn. And I’m now espousing that Christmas is about the lovingly exchange of presents, the warmth of the season, family, friends, Kumbaya and all of that.....
Well, you’d be wrong! To me, it’s still the gift.
Way back two thousand years or so, when Cyrenius was the governor of Syria, God got tired of sending prophets (that we didn’t listen to) and speaking though burning bushes. When HE decided to contact us directly, face to face, HE didn’t text, tweet, “friend” us or call on the phone. God sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him would not die…..but have everlasting life!
Don’t tell me Christmas is not about the gift!