Dec. 20, 2011 — In just a few days most of us will rub the sleep out of our eyes as the first light of day creeps quietly across the Great Basin Desert into our cozy bedrooms, kick off the warm covers and discover the joys of celebrating another Christmas morning — that is if the herd of little stinkers in the house don’t first jar us wide awake with their cries of, “Santa Claus has been here! Santa Claus has been here!” while jumping up and down on the middle of our chests with their pajama-covered tootsies.
Sometimes I think the Christmas holiday exists especially for the little ones.
Some of my fondest memories come from the Christmases of my youth, when my family would gather in the living room around a spectacular tree and open presents.
What a joyous noise we made! Of course, Mom and Dad always seemed a little bleary eyed.
Believe it or not, I can close my eyes and remember some bits of those Christmas mornings quite clearly — the sound of tearing and crumpling wrapping paper, the giggles, laughs and shrieks of joy from my brothers and sisters as they tore through the paper to find that perfect present.
I can see our happy smiles, smell the family breakfast cooking, the spicy aroma of vacuum-brewed coffee and the sound of my grandfather whistling some old country song as he always did.
In my mind’s eye I can still see the rooms of that old house — the way the turn-of-the-century lath and plaster had failed on the corner wall of the kitchen, and how we turned that crumbling space into a family phone book alongside the wall phone by scribbling down every phone number we’d ever need.
Then at other times I think the Christmas holiday exists especially for the old folks.
My family was pretty poor back in those days, and I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to remember the sacrifices my parents made for us to ensure we had a happy time on Christmas morning.
One year a gift as small as a football kept me busy for days pretending I was both Baltimore Colts greats Johnny Unitas and Jimmy Orr hauling down another touchdown reception in Orrville. (OK, I did put my baseball fantasy aside for a while!)
The neighbors must have thought I’d lost my mind, running up and down the lawn, throwing the ball up in the air so I could catch it, crashing down onto the grass amid my best imitation of 65,000 cheering fans.
Sometimes little things can mean so much, and I’m sure my parents peered out the front window, saw how much fun I was having and said, “Gee, we sure did good.”
It surely is better to give than to receive.
All my kids have grown up, and now there’s that kind of joy that can only come from grandkids.
My how time flies when we’re having fun.
But having said all that, as great as our American Christmas celebration has become, we shouldn’t forget the real reason for the season.
Although we’ve created our own American holiday that has spread around the world with Christmas trees, ornaments and tinsel, Christmas cards, brightly colored presents and a fattening holiday feast, we should not let our own festivities overtake us and allow ourselves to forget the season’s really about the birth of Jesus Christ.
Merry Christmas, and a big ho, ho, ho, everybody!
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