Wow. Thirteen days till Christmas. It’s moving so fast, huh? When I was a kid, by this time in December I’d be literally peeing on myself with excitement. Counting it down, shaking whatever packages had made their way beneath the tree. Wait, stop. Back up. This is actually around the time we would have GOTTEN our tree. No one, I mean NO one, got a tree early back then. In fact, the people that did put up their trees (artificial, of course, because the tree lots weren’t even up and running by then) over the Thanksgiving weekend were downright weird. I think that’s why it was more exciting then. By the time the tree went up and people started shopping (well, other than my grandmother, who started her Christmas shopping on December 26th for the next year), there was so much magic in the air. It was freakin’ Christmas, man! We got out of school for what seemed like an eternity. Grandparents came and stayed for a week prior to the big day, and the unloading of the grandparentmobile was always sure to bring a weaker kid to his or her knees. It just seemed like so much stuff! And all for me, me, me!
So why did it seem so much more special? Sure, there was the magic of Santa and his elves, the writing of letters to Santa that always seemed to make their way to the North Pole, the window displays (in stores that actually still faced the sidewalk). But there was also the magic of being a kid and not paying for any of this stuff! We’d take a few dollars to the store and buy our immediate family members some sort of useless trinkets, stop to buy candy with the change, and be done with it. Wrap ’em up, throw ’em under there, and you’re done.

Now? Geez. Seeing if Amazon can beat BestBuy’s price…but wait, Amazon has free shipping so does that make up for the BestBuy price being a little lower…can it get here by the 25th…okay, if I take a second mortgage, maybe I can finish up the kids’ Christmas list by… As a child, I remember my grandmother handing me the Sears Wish Book (remember that?) and telling me to circle whatever I wanted. And I circled with abandon. I never expected to get everything, and I even had a coded category system consisting of things I had to have, things I’d just like to have, and so forth. But even if I got everything I asked for (which, I’m ashamed to say happened more often than not), I don’t think my total ever exceeded a hundred bucks. I think because we didn’t get tons of stuff during the year like kids do now, even a handful of things was a windfall. And because I wanted Mattel, not Microsoft, I think that helped.

It just all seemed so much bigger, more magical, more — I don’t know — miraculous back then. I’ve tried to instill that magic in my kids — tried to teach them what it truly is all about, and I hope I’ve succeeded. Because the experience of a true Christmas is one that should stay with you the rest of the year.

I hope you’re all having a magical season.