A great Christmas can mean different things


Christmas morning. There was nothing like it when I was a kid.

I was such a Christmas nut that I usually ended up sick. No, not with a cold. I was the kid in the Christmas pictures on the couch with a pan next to me in case I needed to puke.

I would get myself so worked up over a holiday that I made myself sick. How perfectly weird is that?

Being sick didn’t dampen my excitement, however. I would tear through presents like a rabid wolverine tears through the Canadian wilderness. I would celebrate each gift, no matter how big or small, like over-excited Bears fans after beating the Packers.

I was a pathetic little kid who couldn’t wait to get his hands on every present he could. The real meaning of Christmas? To me, the real meaning of Christmas was how many presents I got.

That is the cold, hard truth.

As we age, of course, Christmas becomes about different things. When I was a young parent, I loved to see the joy on the faces of my own children. They proved to me that being a greedy kid on Christmas runs in the family.

Now my kids are all grown up, and my wife and I spend Christmas at home, just the two of us. I must say, these might be my favorite holidays of all. Seriously. I love my family, but spending the day with my favorite person in the world is surely a day of joy.

We get up when we want to –at my age means about 7 a.m., which is “sleeping in.” After she has her coffee, we open a couple of presents. Honestly, we don’t go crazy at Christmas, because we generally get what we need or want when we need or want it. The struggling days of being a young parent are behind me, thankfully.

Then it is food – generally nothing too healthy or even festive. Christmas Eve is spent with my wife’s family in Wisconsin, so we get our fill of holiday treats there. In my case, I eat enough for a family of six. At home, we generally don’t go to crazy on Christmas day.

There will be calls to my kids, and probably some good-natured teasing from my son, who lives in Florida, as he rubs in the fact that he is wearing shorts.

I laugh and remind him that I have already spent his inheritance, so he had better buckle down.

Let’s be honest here, Christmas as a holiday is for kids. We can discuss the “real” meaning of Christmas – ripped off Pagan holiday, important day for Christians, a time of year adored by retailers – all we want around the fire. But the reality is that Christmas is for kids.

And I am OK with that. I hope children across Ogle County, Illinois and everywhere have the best day ever. I hope it is filled with everything you want it to be filled with.

Parents will be up early and running wild all day before passing out late after cooking, cleaning and hosting for hours.

Me? I will be sitting on the couch with my beautiful wife. We will be watching a movie – maybe even a horror movie – or one of our recorded TV show favorites.

Honestly, that is a perfect Christmas for me.