Once again it is that time of year. Time to decorate and shop till you drop. As a child what I remember most is getting together as a family on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Coming from a traditional German background my family celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas day.
For us that meant Christmas Eve Mass where my brother and I were taught that you gave your seat up to those who were older or needed the ability to sit during the long mass. Our Mom and Dad disappearing after communion and reappearing at home where my brother and I would find that Santa had already visited our house. One year I swore I saw Rudolf in the basement. As an adult I realized it was the tail lights of the car reflecting in a window. The memory still makes me smile.
As an adult the only presents I remember receiving were those I still have today. Pieces of jewelry that I was given as a child and as an adult I can remember the warm feelings of Christmas past as I look at them today.
When I had my own children I wanted them to understand the true meaning of Christmas. That is was better to give than receive. I also wanted them to have gifts that were memorable from Santa instead of just the hottest toy of the season.
Every year the kids had to earn and save their own money to buy a present for Toys for Tots or pick a child in need from the parish Christmas tree to buy for. I wanted them to understand that they needed to be thankful for what they had and teach them that giving to others felt even better than receiving.
The kids also only got two presents from Santa. Just two.... and a stocking. When they asked how other kids got so many more than they did I simply answered that their parents bought the rest. Santa may be magic but there are limits to what the sleigh can carry.
Which also led into the "Rules" of what Santa would bring. The "Rules" were developed over the years depending on what the kids asked for. No cash or leather, vibrating, reclining rockers. This rule came after my 3 year old asked for $100 in cash and a full size leather, heated, vibrating rocker. No live pets. Santa did not have time to take bathroom breaks. This was instated after I was asked for a LIVE chicken and monkey. No $3000, 600 lbs vending machines. Yes, that's right a vending machine my 8 year old wanted to charge his friends for snacks and drinks when they came over to play....
Over the years due to only getting to ask for 2 gifts I had quite a few interesting requests from my children as they were growing up. They also remember most of the gifts they were given over the years from Santa because only getting two made them special. Christmas simply was not a pile of gifts and wrapping paper left on the floor around the Christmas tree. Forgotten just moments after the wrapping was removed.
I hope my children when they have children of their own pass these two traditions along to my grandchildren. That they teach their own children the joy of giving to others and that the best gifts are those that have meaning......
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