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Presents under the tree

Published December 26. 2009 09:00AM

"What do you really want for Christmas?" asks Harry four days before Christmas.

Well, let's see now. What I REALLY want for Christmas is:

1. World Peace

2. For children everywhere to have a home and food to eat

3. A size 10 body

4. A vacation home in the Caribbean

5. No facial hair

I'm not going to hold my breath that any one of those will be under my Christmas tree.

Instead, I look at my husband of 38 years and wonder why he doesn't know me better than this that he has to ask me.

"Please. Give me some ideas," he pleads.

I take pity on him and tell him, "I could use a long-sleeve nightgown and a gift card from A.C. Moore."

Boy. Am I going to be surprised on Christmas morning or what.

"I try. I really try to remember stuff you tell me all through the year about the things you want but when it gets close to Christmas, I can't remember a thing," he laments.

I pat him on the arm and tell him it's all right.

And you know what? It really is.

Because I don't want "The Perfect Gift." God gave the only perfect gift in history, His son, Jesus Christ, to all of us.

With maturity, I've come to believe that if you love me and want to express that by giving me a gift, then I will love whatever it is you give me.

Remember being a kid? Nothing can take the place of all those childhood years where Christmas time was filled with mystery and excitement wondering what Santa Claus would bring us. I can't remember one single Christmas where I was ever disappointed with my presents. Even as I got older, I was still enthralled with the secrecy, the shopping, the baking of cookies and all the traditions of Christmas.

I still feel the mystery and excitement of the season.

Instead of wondering what gifts I'll be receiving, I like buying or making gifts for the people whom I love and value. And I try my best to uphold Christmas traditions.

As I'm getting older, I'm learning not to stress about what gets done and what doesn't. Now I prioritize and don't sweat the small stuff.

So what if I don't bake 20 different kinds of cookies. I'm the one who'll end up eating all the leftovers anyway and that will never do as I make a diet pact with the New Year's devil.

So what if I don't decorate the house like I use to. It'll just be less to take down in January and I'm all about less work of any kind.

But there are some traditions I don't want to lose.

Like singing "Silent Night" at the Christmas Eve candlelight worship service.

Like Christmas Day spent with my family at my mom's.

When we arrive at my mom's and we all place our presents under the tree, my mom always says the same thing, "I thought we weren't buying as much as last year."

There are mountains of gifts. And for a few moments when we look at the piles, we do feel somewhat astonished and maybe a little sheepish.

That lasts for about 20 seconds before we begin opening.

I don't know when we started this tradition, but we go around the room and let one person open one present at a time so we all get to see the gift. I think it allows not only the group to admire it but it also gives the receiver of the gift time to savor it. Of course, it's always hardest on the kids, but they always get into the spirit of things.

People say that Christmas has lost its meaning and there are those who only look at it as a holiday with gifts.

That's true if there are those who celebrate Christmas without knowing why there is a Christmas in the first place. I guess that's why those people just want "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

You can't celebrate Christmas if you don't believe. And don't celebrate Christmas if you don't believe.

Because when I sing the Christmas carols, I rejoice in the good news of the Christ's birth.

When I decorate a tree, it's because it's a sign of my Christian faith, symbolizing Christ at the center of my household.

For everything we do, from baking cookies, to hanging wreaths to decorating with greens, lights and ornaments, giving gifts, to anything associated with Christmas, has come about as a way to celebrate the birth of the Christ child.

When the Three Wise Men came from the East looking for the Christ Child, they brought with them priceless gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

That's why there is the tradition of giving gifts to those we love at Christmas time.

I don't believe we should try to emulate those expensive gifts.

If Harry gives me a flannel nightgown to keep me nice and warm on a cold winter's night, then it is a present I will be happy to receive and I know he gave the gift because he loves me.

I came across a quote from Charlotte Carpenter. It says, "Remember, if Christmas isn't found in your heart, you won't find it under a tree."

So, on December 25, if you were lucky enough to find a present for you under the tree, I hope you opened it and felt the love that was placed inside the pretty wrapping paper.

If we all felt that way about Christmas, I bet there would be World Peace and children everywhere would have a home and food to eat.Just a thought.

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