Presents are awesome. Christmas is awesome! I remember the avid anticipation of Christmas morning when I was a kid. Sometimes on the night before Christmas, my brother would sneak into my room and we'd play quietly because we just couldn't sleep through the excitement. And if it didn't keep us up all night, we'd be up early. Way too early. One year we were up at 4am, sitting on my bed whispering excitedly about what we thought we'd find under the tree.
I think back on those memories fondly, but guess what? I have no recollection of what we actually received from our parents or Santa. To me, that is what Christmas is about. And I don't think that really sunk in until I was old enough to look back on the holidays and realize what I've just explained: the parts that are special to me are most definitely not the presents.
Now I've got my own child and I'm observing Christmas from the other side, if you will. Since becoming an adult I've grown to really enjoy the giving of presents more than receiving them. It's fun to guess at what someone might want and then to browse expectantly for something that fits them just perfectly. It's an interesting challenge, one that is often influenced by social pressures and finding a balance between good will, budgeting and extravagance. It's easy to see why some don't enjoy that challenge. I'm giddy with excitement to give our daughter the presents we've got for her. But where does Santa fit into all of this?
It wasn't long after I learned to read that I realized Santa's handwriting looked exactly like Mom's. The next year, after having pointed this out to her, Santa's writing changed to a tidy cursive. But I could still tell it was my Mom's writing. She always signed cards in cursive, duh. What is the point in the Santa hoodwink? The magic? What are we trying to accomplish by writing "From Santa" on our gift tags?
I left a draft of this much sitting open on my computer for a few hours and now I'm back to it and this topic suddenly strikes me as a bona fide #firstWorldProblem. Just be thankful that we even have the means to write gift tags at all. And that we have presents to stick them on.
Happy holidays everyone. Don't have too many eggnogs. (Or maybe do?) And enjoy the memories you're making. Because that's what you'll come back for.