In 1959, author John Steinbeck wrote of two types of Christmas:
(1) There is one kind in a house where there is little and a present represents not only love but sacrifice. The one single package is opened with a kind of slow wonder, almost reverence.
(2) Then there is the other kind of Christmas with present[s] piled high, the gifts of guilty parents as bribes because they have nothing else to give. The wrappings are ripped off and the presents thrown down and at the end the child says—‘Is that all?’
I reflected on these words today, as I watched my three daughters react to what was underneath the wrapping paper they ripped off. It was cute to watch them squeal with delight at the presents they had wanted, but it was less enjoyable to watch their reaction to the other gifts. They were not even remotely interested in the books, including an extensive collection of Fancy Nancy and science books. It seems like books are nothing special, perhaps because we have so many already lying around, and so books can’t compete with fire trucks and art supplies at the moment. This is typical behavior for five-year-olds, but the booklover in me shudders a little.
Overall, it was a nice day (thanks to my sister and the rest of my family). One sweet comment came from S., who wanted to give gifts to those who did not receive as many presents today or who did not have enough food to eat. I was happy to know that she is thinking about helping other people, an important lesson not only this time of year, but all year long.
*A picture of our first Christmas with our twins, who were still in the NICU, only two weeks old.