The Joy of Giving

As Linus reminds us every Christmas, "the true meaning of Christmas," Charlie Brown, has nothing to do with trees … or presents.

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t important.

When I was young, I could never understand why my dad truly didn’t care about receiving Christmas presents (his joy was in giving them to others.)

To me, this seemed like a foreign concept. Sacrilegious, even. How could you not get stoked about Christmas presents? I mean, I never thought that would happen to me — nor was it something I aspired to. But, just like dad, the older I get, the less and less I care about receiving presents (not to say you can’t send something my way.)

But, you know what? I’ve been thinking about the Christmas presents I received as a child. And it occurs to me that they did bring me joy. Here are some of my favorites:

  •  One year, mom and dad took me down to the basement on Christmas eve to find a new ping-pong table and a heavy punching bag set up for me. Wow! That was probably the best. Even better, the ping-pong table gave me hours of time to play against my dad (who always won.)
  •  I also have fond memories of another year when it snowed before Christmas, and my dad broke out an early Christmas present. It was a plastic sled (at the time, this was newfangled technology). We went sled riding together.

I also know I got an Atari one year, and a Nintendo one year (just like every other Gen Xer). Again, these gifts also provided a chance for me to spend some time with dad. (He could beat me at ping-pong — but for some reason, kids always win with video games).

… Was it just cheap consumerism?

Well, here I am, still smiling thinking about it. I guess presents aren’t so bad, after all.

In truth, the best part is that I bet mom and dad got as much joy out of giving those gifts as I had receiving them. And it strikes me that the best gifts were all the ones that resulted in spending more time together.

The most important gifts you can give your kids is to love them and spend time with them. The second, is an X-Box. Just kidding. Sort of.

… So what was the best Christmas you ever had???