It was not the presents that stuck in my childhood memory so much as the smell, the sights and the sounds of Christmas. We had a scratch-n-sniff book that had pages with cinnamon, peppermint, chocolate...and cardamom bread Christmas morning...mmm. The sound of Orson Wells narrating Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" on an old vinyl LP, scratches included. I heard carols sung late into the night with guitar and piano and little voices squeaking to reach the high notes on Joy to the World. I saw all the Christmas lights around town as we drove through neighborhoods with big houses. How did their Daddies get all those lights up? It was amazing to me. Sure, we opened our jammies on Christmas Eve and had two or three presents to open Christmas morning, but it was the ANTICIPATION that made it all worthwhile.
How do I give my daughter a similar experience? How do I shield her from the rampant commercialism, the blatant consumerism, the loss of value associated with tradition...? This year she plays with the baby Jesus in the manger. She knows what Santa looks like (but hasn't sat on his lap). She loves the music and lights, already. The smells are all too familiar at our house (thanks to Daddy and his passion for baking goodies). We tell stories by the tree and reminisce about years past. I guess that's where it all starts. The baby Jesus. The fat man. The lights and music. The smell. The memories.
Merry Christmas everyone. Happy New Year!