Childhood Memories & Christmas

NOTE:  I realize we are still a good month or so off from Christmas, but I am already nearly done with my Christmas shopping.  I’ve already purchased the majority of my decorations this year, and folks up and down our street are already decorating the outside of their houses for the coming weeks.  And, yes, I also realize we still have to climb over Thanksgiving.  But bear with me, folks.  I’m starting to work myself into the holiday spirit.

 

When I was a kid, we never had a lot of money.  My mom worked all the time as custodian of an elementary school and my grandmother lived with us but was retired because of health issues.  I wasn’t the kid who got something every time we went to Wal-Mart or out around town.  Maybe once a month or so I’d get a toy – usually a He-Man, Go-bot or Transformer.  In fact, as a side note, the very first toy I actually remember-remember was actually getting TWO of my very first He-Men action figures.  I remember being in awe because my mom had wrestled with the idea of spending our limited funds on two great toys such as this.  He-Man and Skeletor – the classic originals, mind you, not this new crap they have pumped out over the years since.  Awesome stuff.  I thought I was in heaven, man.

A classic Western depiction of Santa Claus.

But back to my point.

Never having gotten much through out the year, the biggest memories for me always came at Christmas time.  No matter how tight our money was through the year, my mom and grandma always had a big Christmas for me.  Of course, I know gifts aren’t the “reason for the season,” but as a kid, you still get that magical feeling when you wake up and walk into the living room to see what Old Saint Nick has left for you.  And Mr. Claus was always very good to me in my youth.

One particular Christmas that stands out to this day was probably when I was about 8 or so years old.  I walked into the living room and half the floor was taken up by a parade of fantastic gifts.  Voltron lions with their pilots (sold separately).  Castle Greyskull.  Megatron (yeah, boys, the REAL Megatron, a Walther P38 w/ the stock, scope and silencer).  Action figures, clothes, goodies, chaos, lights and ribbons!!!  Awesomeness.

Now, I’m grown up, married and have a kid of my own.  My wife’s style of celebration and my own from childhood are different in a few ways.  The one difference that I have always been taken aback by is that they all tell you exactly what they want.  Do not stray from the list that was made, this is it, nothing but.  Where is the surprise?  Where is the present-shaking excitement when no one is looking?

“Oh, yeah, that gift?  It’s the perfume I told you to buy me.  Thanks.”

Versus:

“ZOMGWTFIUPBBQWINNING!  WHAT IS THIS?” shaking box violently then ripping paper off “AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!  OH NO YOU DIDN’T GET ME THIS!!!  OMG!!  I BEEN WANTING THIS!!!!!!”

So, really, which one is more exciting here?  I love the mystery.  The excitement.  The danger of not knowing if it’s a pair of socks or a time bomb with 4 seconds left when I tear into the wrapping and pry open the box.  I usually bring it up once or twice a year, but this year I’ve been hounding it.  “I don’t wanna know what you’re getting me!” I’ll exclaim.  Or, “They can surprise me.  I don’t want to make a list.”

I’m really not a picky person, I’m happy with a gift.  It IS, after all, the thought that counts.  If you put some effort in to it and that collectable wad of navel lint was what your heart told you to get me, well, so be it.  I’ll certainly be surprised.

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