November 23, 2022
What will your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews remember most from Christmas morning? Will it be the $85 remote-controlled car or the $120 American Girl doll? Or maybe their first rifle, cellphone or computer? Will it be laughing at silly Grandpa plopping a bow on his head or scoring a strike with a ball of wadded-up wrapping paper? If they’re young enough, it might be climbing in the box that held their first Radio Flyer red wagon.
When I reflect on Christmas mornings going way back, I still remember getting the barn set complete with dairy cows from my grandparents when I was 6. I opened it, with the entire family nestled around my grandparents’ Warm Morning stove in the farmhouse where my mom grew up.
I also remember the Christmas as a young adult when my brother and I decided to surprise Mom with a curio cabinet. It’s hard to hide a 6-foot-tall, glass-front cabinet. We put it in my bedroom at my house. Guess what? Mom made a surprise visit and walked right to the closet where the cabinet set alongside. To her last day, she swore she didn’t see it. If she did, she was an award-winning actress on Christmas morning!
Yet what do I remember best? It started with a Christmas gathering with my uncle, aunt and cousins. Imagine six teenage boys with a few ornery adults added in. Whenever someone unwrapped socks or a flashlight, it wasn’t long before colorful balls of wadded-up paper started flying. Our story was always the same: We were tossing it to the trash bags, but our aim was off. I usually hit a cousin or uncle instead — not an aunt. They didn’t grasp the humor. When the gift exchange ended, there was more paper outside the trash bags than in them.
As cousins married, traditions changed. Yet my own new nuclear family hung onto the tradition of wadding up gift wrapping into balls and aiming it for the … trash bag. Our kids expanded the tradition by sticking colorful bows first on their head, and then on other people’s heads. Even I don a silly bow or two each Christmas morning.
When there was someone under 4 in the mix, playing with empty boxes earned tradition status. “Why do we buy them presents?” my wife, Carla, asked. “Why not just wrap up empty boxes and put bows on them?”
That’s a good question! Those over 12 likely wouldn’t be impressed, although they enjoy the gift paper ball fights.
As I flash back to that Christmas where I received the toy barn, I realize that while memories last, material things do not. That toy barn is long gone. A warehouse sits where my grandparents’ house once stood.
Someone else owns the curio cabinet — neither my brother nor I had room for it. And while memories of colorful bows and flying paper are vivid, every bow and shred of paper are long gone as well.
But don’t despair. Memories are precious. And best of all, one gift of Christmas remains alive and well, forever. It’s THE gift of Christmas, the baby Jesus, now a living Savior, waiting to return. After all, that, above all else, is what Christmas is truly all about.
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