When I recall favorite Christmases past, I can’t help but smile. There was the Christmas of 1965, when I tore off the wrapping paper on the largest box under the tree and shouted with glee at the sight of what lay underneath: that electric football game just like my friend Doug’s – only bigger.
There was the Christmas of 1971, when the treasure was too large to bind with a papered chest. Instead, my parents and grandparents heave-hoed the pool table into the living room and constructed it a few hours after I finally succumbed to sleep on Christmas Eve night. It was, I deemed upon the first glance at the scene on the next morning, the greatest holiday gift I had ever received or would ever receive.
There was the Christmas of 1980, the first one spent with my wife. There were the Christmases of 1981, 1982, 1985 and 1990, the first ones spent with new members of the family, proving just how wrong was my assessment in 1971.
For each of the past nine Christmases, that point has been reiterated as I’ve watched first one grandchild, then a second, then a third, lend an indefinable euphoria to the family gathering, especially as each reached the age when what was inside the box was more fun to play with than the container itself. If you have grandchildren, you know the scene: the ripping off of the wrapping; the wide, sparkly eyes just thereafter that define the happiness of the moment; the squeals and untethered hopping that symbolize joy in its purest form.
And now I approach Christmas present, which isn’t to be mistaken for a Christmas present. I’m referring to the day, not a bounty of the day, although, as I’ve noted, they can be synonymous. Christmas present comes at a time when most of us are actually more focused on New Year’s Day present, if just because New Year’s Day present officially closes out 2020, which has been among the more tumultuous years of all of our lives.
Christmas present could use some pure joy. It could benefit from a notion not lost on the young: Every day is ripe for discovery. Every moment can yield something fresh. I think that in our quest to get back to “normal,” we sometimes forget that normal shouldn’t be enough. We should really aspire to get back to a place when our minds and hearts rejoiced with each new day – and especially with each new Dec. 25th.
So, during the upcoming holiday season, I’m making a vow to myself – and now to you – to put the frustrations of the past 300-plus days aside and to purposefully cherish all that has been wonderful about the past 64-plus years.
If I am able to do that, I’m pretty sure that when I look back on this time in my life, 2020 will rank among the more important of all my Christmases past.
Maybe, even, the most important one.