The Greatest Christmas Gift of All – Underwear

December 15, 2008

Hey blog friends. Sorry it’s been several days since I laid some thoughts down for you. Rest assured though, the break was for a very good reason. Something special is in the works.

Christmas is almost here, and with it, millions of gifts will be exchanged. Most of these gifts, while thoughtful will be forgettable by the time we’re into the new year. Really, how many gifts did you recieve as a child that you still remember today? It’s only the truly special gifts that get remembered – like Ralphie’s Red Rider bebe gun. Or sometimes parents like to teach their children a little Christmas lesson that sticks in their minds for a long time.

One of the most memorable gifts I recieved was one I had worked to obtain for almost a year. I was really into legos when I was a kid. I would pore through the little catalogues dreaming about all the sets I wanted. One day I set my sights on the holy grail of lego sets. It was an enormous pirate ship. Not the wimpy little clipper ship my little brother was content with. This pirate ship could absolutely thrash that little dinghy. So I started saving up my money. It would be quite a feat for an eight-year-old to save $100 in $1-2 increments each week. I was nearly there by Christmas, but not quite. But you know what? Santa rewarded my frugalness of the last 10 months by ordering his elves to send me that pirate ship! Awesome.

Each Christmas morning, we’d find a letter from Santa, which was inexplicably written in our mother’s handwriting. He’d tell us we had been pretty good, but there was always room for improvement. We should not fight so much, and be more generous toward one another, for example. Nice try, mom.

Perhaps the second best gift of all time was a Nintendo 64. My bro and I knew we were getting it because the lady at Toys-R-Us screwed up and left a message on the answering machine stating that our Nintendo 64 had arrived and was on layaway. Dad was ticked, because they had actually decided to not purchase it. It is strictly against store policy to name the item on the phone message lest some children who are not allowed to answer the phone (i.e. my brother and I) hear it. So Dad barked at them until they gave it to him for free. Anyway, Christmas morning, we’re opening gifts and they’ve all been unwrapped…except the huge box with both our names on it. We knew what was inside that box. Then we opened it up…and it was socks and underwear. Our hearts sank for a brief moment. (get it…?) But my brother refused to believe that cruel rouse and dug furiously, desperately through the unneeded undergarments to find the Nintendo buried below. We spent the rest of the day running around in new undies playing that thing until it nearly melted. The only factor that caused us to give that thing a break was that Mom totally hogged it whenever she got a turn, and we couldn’t stand watching her play with her feeble skills.

We’d also find each Christmas or birthday that our list was absolutely without fail never fully granted. There would always be an item or two that we would have to wait a bit longer for, or do without completely. I am now thankful for this sly tactic that always left a bittersweet taste in our mouths on Christmas morning. It was such a subtle yet poignant lesson each year.

I think my dad relished taking as long as possible on Christmas morning to get up, dress himself, make his coffee, put on Harry Connick Jr’s Christmas album and mosey his way downstairs where my brother and I sat by the tree, waiting to open our gifts. And we didn’t all tear into them like a pack of hyenas either. We were civilized and took turns. It made the whole experience much better and last longer, and that’s good.

A guy in church last week was telling about how when he was a kid, one year all the kids at Grandma’s house were being a bit ungrateful for the presents they had recieved. So Grandma rounds all the children up and excitedly asks them to go find their favorite gifts. Each child hurried to retrieve what they were most excited about that morning. Then Grandma gathered the favorite gift of each child and told them the gifts would be going to charity.

I don’t have any kids, but I can’t wait to have kids now, just to pull this on them if they step out of line.

What was Christmas like at your house? What was your all time best gift? Any bitter Christmas lessons you had to be taught, or that you are now teaching your children?

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