Last week, I invited my fellow content creators to spend this week creating some themed content and today is the first day of 5 Days of December – holiday writing prompts to inspire you to create! Today is Day 1 where we’re reflecting on The Best Christmas Ever.
Some holidays don’t sit well with me. Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve are two holidays that don’t gel with me. Some are good, some are not so good. But Christmas is a special holiday for me. I’ve had rougher years than others but my mind magically filters all of that out and I’m left with fond memories of every Christmas.
So when I sat down to try to reflect on the best Christmas ever, I immediately went back to my childhood. Christmas was so magical for me. It was the one day that I waited for all year and on Christmas Eve, I laid in bed barely able to believe the day had almost arrived. Early on Christmas morning, one of us would wake up and the beautifully frustrating traditions of our Christmas morning would begin.
Let me paint a picture of how a typical 1970s and 1980s Christmas went in our house.
I’m one of four kids (#3 in the birth order) so I was usually one of the first to wake up. Generally, I’d wake my sister up and then we’d start the process of waking our parents up. We were UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES to go downstairs without my parents for reasons I’ll explain in a minute. And THIS was the most maddening part of the morning.
My parents were not morning people (much like I am now) but, of course, I had no knowledge of the fact that they had mostly liked stayed up until 2 or 3 am playing Santa Claus. We tried our best to drag them out of bed – waking them up was one thing, getting them out of bed was another.
After a good 45 minutes of waiting, we’d all get ready to go downstairs together to start our official Christmas morning.
THE BIG REVEAL.
Santa never wrapped our gifts. If it needed to be assembled, Santa assembled it (hence, my parents 2am bedtime). If stickers needed to be applied, Santa did it. And it created this wonderful toyland the minute we walked into the room. This is also why we couldn’t go downstairs without our parents. My mom insisted on seeing our reaction to every single toy.
The plan was brilliant too. It bought my parents some time as we had plenty of toys to squeal over and play with while my parents grabbed their caffeine of choice.
Then the unwrapping began. And it feel like it ended almost as soon as it began. After the Santa explosion and the massive unwrapping, we stuffed our faces with sweet rolls and started the cleanup before settling down for our long winter’s nap.
Until that one year…
It must have been 1977 or 1978. My mom and dad asked us to gather up all of the wrapping paper and help clean up. As we started moving around the room to gather the trash, they mentioned there was a large garbage bag over in the corner. I can’t remember who went over to the bag first but within seconds, we were all there trying to understand what we were looking at.
Inside was a box for the brand new Sears Tele-Games system.
If you’re not familiar with the Sear Tele-Games system, it was basically the Atari 2600 with a Sears label slapped on it. But it was the equivalent of putting a CRAY supercomputer in the middle of our house. Having spent hours playing on our Pong console, we were ready for the next generation. Who knew pixels on a screen could make a couple of kids in the 1970s so flipping excited?
We didn’t have much money back them so a “big gift” like this was totally unexpected and the surprise manner in which is was delivered is something I’ll never forget and I’m sure my brother and sister won’t either.
Many years later, I continue a lot of the same traditions as my parents. Santa doesn’t wrap our gifts now either and NOBODY is allowed downstairs until we’re ALL ready to go downstairs. I even had a similar Christmas surprise for my son a few years ago. He was begging for the outrageously priced LEGO Millennium Falcon. We waited until the Christmas chaos was almost over before we revealed a surprise gift Santa had left in our closet. And last year, we bought the even more outrageously priced LEGO Death Star and sent my son on a scavenger hunt for the big reveal.
My favorite Christmas memories may seem to involve the biggest gifts. But honestly, it’s the joy of surprise (whether it’s mine or someone I love) that makes the season of giving so rewarding.
I hope your holiday brought you many wonderful surprises!