‘Tis the season.
And if you’re a kid, ‘tis the season of receiving.’
Little Jason had a laser focus on presents from the moment the Sears Christmas Wish Book crossed the threshold of the Marshall house. Page corners were bent. Toys circled in Magic Marker. And the catalogue could be found strategically placed on the kitchen table, open to the page with the Six Million Dollar Man Steve Austin action figure and his bionic eye.
Crayons were put to paper shortly after the last BB Bat was fished from the bottom of the Halloween pillowcase.
Heavily influenced by the Wish Book, the Santa list would drastically change when the Christmas TV commercials hit the airwaves.
I can still see that kid rolling down the road and pulling the brake on his Big Wheel trike, skidding sideways at the camera. Evel Knievel popping a wheelie on his Stunt Cycle. Then those four kids pulling Stretch Armstrong halfway across the room. And a little girl taking a tiny tray of brownies out of an Easy Bake Oven.
Christmas will always have a special place in my heart. No doubt driven by my inner child.
Our perceptions of life change with each passing year, but despite the adult stresses of spending, wrapping, planning, cooking, tracking packages, cleaning, assembling easy-to-assemble toys and entertaining, the Christmas season remains magical to me.
If the Ghost of Christmas Past whisked me away to relive the impressionable moments that have stuck with me, the spotlight wouldn’t just shine on Christmas morning.
By entering Deep Thinker Mode, I clearly see that my love of the holidays isn’t built on a foundation of presents. Now, don’t misunderstand. I loved nothing better than spotting a gift under the tree with my name on the tag. It was the thrill of not knowing what lurked under the wrapping paper.
And for the record, seeing a stocking overflowing with treasures trumped all. It was airtight proof that Santa made it to our house.
But let’s throw the sleigh in reverse for a second.
Christmas Day is the final port on the seasonal voyage.
It is the journey wherein lies the magic.
A journey mapped out by family.
As kids, we absorb our environment. We learn from those closest to us and mimic what we see and hear.
Without even realizing it, I learned it’s not about what’s under the tree, but what happens around it. And more importantly, who is around it to enjoy it with.
Here is some friendly advice that will hopefully complement your own magical Christmas traditions.
- Christmas music in the house is a must. There can be no wiggle room on this one.
- Always decorate your tree as a family. The stories and love shared at that moment are more valuable than any presents you will ever put under it.
- Find time to bake cookies, squares or pies. And when you do, ask your kids or grandkids to help.
- Every great meal has family around the table, laughing at stories that begin with “Remember that time …”
- You can never have too much gravy or dressing. To serve. Or in your belly. As for jellied salads, you venture into those at your own risk.
- As a family you need to find time to watch some holiday TV classics with heart-warming messages of love. These include Max the dog’s love for the Grinch, Charlie Brown and his love for that pitiful little tree, and Emmet Otter’s love for his mom as he puts a hole in her washtub. If you missed that last reference, Google it. You won’t be disappointed.
- Christmas is not Christmas without After Eight mints or chocolate covered cherries on the table.
- Take photos. And lots of them. They are the keepers of Christmas magic.
- Be present at Christmas. Live in the moment. Put down your phone unless you’re taking a photo.
- It’s an overused cliché, but the thought is what really counts, not the gift. Nothing says “I love you” more than socks and underwear from grandma.
- Never go to bed on Christmas Eve without leaving out a treat for Santa. And the reindeer. If you’re on the bubble for his Good List this could be a game changer.
These may all seem like little things, but remember—they make all the difference.
Merry Christmas, everyone, and may you all create memories that last a lifetime.
Jason Marshall has been a writer and journalist for more than 30 years and is an on-air host and station manager at Valley Heritage Radio just outside of Renfrew, Ontario. And he’s truly a big kid at heart. You can email him anytime at email@example.com