October through December has always been my favorite time of year. My birthday is October 1st, and Christmas is my favorite holiday. Plus there is the bonus of Thanksgiving being sandwiched in between the two celebrations. Did you notice the food reference in the bonus section? Holiday and birthday food is awesome!!! But, that’s not all. There’s more! October through December also provides some of my other favorite things: time with family, cooler weather, possibility of snow, leaves changing colors, time off from school and work, you get to set your clocks back an hour, it gets dark earlier, a fire in the fireplace, and last but certainly not least, FOOTBALL!!! My favorite kind of day is overcast, cold, and windy. Add in some snow and you have a perfect day. I know its weird, but it’s my thing.
For a kid, your birthday, Halloween, and Christmas are a big deal. It’s especially cool when they are so close together on the calendar. You get a steady stream of presents and candy! There are decorations, candles, costumes, blinking lights, and more. The season is jam-packed with excitement, wonder, and anticipation. As a kid, I could hardly contain myself. Going to sleep on Christmas Eve was almost impossible.
“A Christmas Story”, the movie with Ralphie and the Red Ryder BB gun is probably my favorite holiday movie because it takes me back to the magic of the season. Just like the scenes where the gang has their faces pressed against the toy display window at Higbee’s department store or Ralphie inserting gift clues into his parents LIFE magazine. I loved to go to the stores to look for toys and circle the items in the JC Penney and Sears Catalog toy sections hoping that my parents would take the hint and buy.
Christmas was a big deal for my dad. He wanted us to have what he didn’t have as a child. He probably over compensated, but the 8-year-old Robby wasn’t complaining. We had wrapped gifts under the tree, but my parents would have other gifts hidden. They would bring them out of hiding, and set them out unwrapped after I went to bed. My dad enjoyed “trying” out some of my toys on Christmas Eve. I could hear noises coming from downstairs, which added to my curiosity and anticipation. I got a bumper pool table one year and could hear the pool balls smacking together as I lay in my bed. The pool table was in the room directly under my bedroom. Hello! I’m still not sure how they got it in the house and set it up without me seeing it. I’m sure they found creative ways to distract me.
Another year, I got a train set. I didn’t have to wait until Christmas morning because my dad couldn’t wait to play with it, and set it up on the living room floor. I had been sent out with friends for pizza, so when I returned I got a huge early Christmas Eve surprise. We were usually allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve, but this was AWESOME!
There was also the odd sound of buzzing coming from the living room one Christmas Eve. As I descended downstairs the next morning for the annual Christmas gift unveiling and extravaganza, I discovered an Electric Football Game by the fireplace. If you’re not familiar, it’s a little metal football field that is about 3 feet long and 2 feet wide. When you flick the power switch, the field vibrates, and the little plastic football players move around the field. Some other Christmas gift highlights included: a pony, a bike, a king snake (yes it was alive!), basketball goal, air hockey table, a full set of miniature NFL football helmets, and of course a BB gun. No, I didn’t shoot my eye out.
My sister is 7 years older, so she had out grown the Christmas gift and toy crazy phase. She was usually stationed as a guard positioned strategically on the couch to watch over the presents until I was officially allowed to come downstairs, which was usually around 5:30-6am. She was pretty effective. I remember trying to sneak down a few times to get a peak. I never made it passed the first couple of steps to come downstairs before I heard, “Robby go back to bed!” “Don’t even think about it” or “Go ahead punk, make my day” I think she took great pleasure in keeping me at bay.
I had a nice run from the time I really understood what was going on with the whole gift thing until I was round 12. I really racked up. My Christmas haul was usually stellar. Then it all came to a screeching halt. What happened? My parents decided we needed to refocus our attention on the true meaning of Christmas. What? You know, Jesus and family. I’m pretty sure my mom had a lot to do with this change in direction. She had just become a Christian a few years earlier. My dad wasn’t quite there yet, but he probably figured it was time to get the Christmas fever under control anyway. It was probably for financial reasons as well, but I think the spiritual priorities were paramount.
(EXREME SARCASM ALERT!)
It was decided that we would “make” things for each other. It was going to be an arts and crafts Christmas, except for the ugly sweaters and clip on ties from grandparents. Oh, boy. I wasn’t a happy camper. I was a Christian. I knew it was Jesus birthday. It was his party not mine, but why can’t we all enjoy it? Spread the wealth? I can do both. I’m flexible. What’s wrong with a few gifts and a shout out to Jesus on the big day? Why rain on my Christmas parade?
It was like Christmas rehab. I was a gift junkie, and my parents felt it was time for me to kick the habit. It was not going to be a year-by-year gradual cutback on gift consumption either. It was cold turkey. It was shock and awe! A Blitzkrieg on Christmas consumerism! I probably received more discipline, groundings, and spankings that Christmas than several years combined. I deserved it. I was a brat, especially that first year.
Thankfully, I survived the purge. Each year it got easier, and eventually consumer gift buying and giving returned to the Morris household, but in a greatly reduced capacity. My parent’s intervention was successful and helped me reset my priorities. It was good for all of us. I’m thankful that they did it. But, if you this gives you any ideas, please don’t say where it came from; I don’t want to be known as the Family Minister who killed Christmas.
All humor aside, I was blessed in so many ways as a child. I have wonderful memories of Christmas that aren’t all about gifts. My love for this time of year is deeply rooted in time spent with family, love and laughter, the pageantry of the season, and the celebration of Jesus birth. My parents knew how to make it special, and I am very grateful. I know for many the Christmas season doesn’t have the same meaning, so I don’t take it for granted.
I pray God’s blessings upon you and your family during this Christmas Season. May it be a true season of joy, peace, hope, and love for all of us as we celebrate Jesus birthday.
Director of Family Ministry and Facility Management