Saturday, December 01, 2018

T'is Better to Receive Than to Give

Julian and I have been having an ongoing discussion about whether it's better to give or receive at Christmastime.  I told him I really love thinking of that perfect gift to give to someone I care about. It's the best feeling and I get so excited to give it.   He replied saying, "Hmm.. that is nice, but I think the joy of giving doesn't last as long as the joy of receiving.  I give a gift and that feels good for a minute but when I get something, I get that thing forever!"   I asked him if the happiness of receiving that gift lasts as long as the gift itself and he considered that, seeming to think it just might.

Last Christmas we decided to keep it simple so we didn't have as many things as we might normally. Guess what? It kind of sucked, ha ha.  We had the whole of Christmas break and didn't have many new games to try and there is sort of a thrill of having all the junk lying around, wrapping paper mixed in with the shiny new toys.  And nothing can replace the first look of the bounty around the tree, those first glimpses on Christmas morn. It doesn't even matter what it is.  We-- I mean Santa gave Julian a lego set once and it was a monster castle all put together waiting by the tree.  He liked the castle and played with it a bunch before he dismantled it but he often talks about how magical that was, seeing it there as he came down the stares. Lego sets built already by the tree has cemented some joy into his brain.  And I have to agree, that is sort of what stays with a person when looking back on the magic of their childhood Christmases.  Like, do i still have any of those toys? Not one.  But do I remember the feeling I had when I saw them, sparkling and new, having magically appeared, just waiting for me? YES.  There was the year of the Barbie Ice Cream Maker, Cabbage Patch Preemie baby dolls (why did they market premature babies?? whyyy) the kitty cat puppet that squeaked when you punched its forehead {shoulder shrug}, that GIANT doll the size of me that was the boy version of the girl doll given to my sister. Or when I got my electric piano? I actually played that thing to death for a goodly long time. Sean's list includes Constructs and a giant race car set that sprawled around the whole living room. We both agree you need a remote controlled something or other. In my family, when the last of us were basically grown, I remember there still being toys at Christmas. Something fun or silly for my dad.  Sean recounts being home for Christmas as a college student. He was unable to sleep on Christmas Eve and sort of chastised himself for it, giving him no good reason for it. He had realistic expectations for the morning of the next day, yet he could not quell the excitement in him, nor could he explain it. And as he told me this story, I wondered, why should he?

It's like Ralphie from A Christmas Story describes visiting the department story windows in the opening scenes:

Higbees' corner window was traditionally a high-water mark of the pre-Christmas season. First 
nighters, packed earmuff to earmuff, jostled in wonderment before a golden tinkling display... 
of mechanized, electronic joy. 

Over the years, my parents had us help with buying Christmas things for other people and those are some fond memories as well. Selecting the gifts, how we thought this person might like this or that, dropping them off at their house one snowy night. Ringing the bell, running at full speed, slipping on a sled and and scrambling to keep running before we were spotted.  That was great.  But I think there might be something to Julian's theory.   He also explained, 

"Giving is good, but you can't give without there being someone to get.  So we need that too."   And I think he's decided to step up and take one for the team, and be that person who gets, so that you might feel the joy of giving.  Merry Christmas, everyone.  Happy Dec. 1.

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