Two Types of Christmas

Our First Christmas (2)_NICU_Misfortuneofknowing BlogIn 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.

Merry Christmas!

*A picture of our first Christmas with our twins, who were still in the NICU, only two weeks old.


  1. I really enjoyed this post. I love the idea of the Christmas/holiday season, but not always the reality of it. I need to remind myself not to build up expectations too much, and these days it’s mostly my own expectations of how people (especially my grandchildren) will respond to the gifts I choose. Don’t worry, I can’t imagine your kids not loving books, even if they don’t have the immediate wow factor on Christmas Day!

    1. I hope you and your family had a lovely Christmas! I am so thankful that my girls love to read, and I can’t wait until they enjoy picking out and receiving books. After they switch over to e-readers, there will be even less of a “wow” factor when all they get are a bunch of files. Oh well!

      Happy New Year!

  2. What an amazing photograph. And I am sure the girls will come to enjoy books as gifts just as much as other things as they get older. You’ve got them accustomed to enjoying reading already 🙂

    1. Thank you! My sister was the one who made sure we had lots of NICU pictures–my husband and I didn’t have the wherewithal to do it ourselves. I hope my girls will enjoy receiving books when they’re older! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Such a sweet post! I love the picture of Santa by the isolette. (And how helpful an “I’m a Girl” sign would have been in our NICU. The girls all had their vital stats printed on pink cards and the boys on blue cards, AND my little one wore a pink hat with a bow, but I think about half the nurses still said “He’s so handsome!” or “What a cute little boy!” when they met my Peanut for the first time. Womp, womp. They see a lot of kids in there!)

    I’m sure that the girls will grow to love getting books as gifts. In the meantime, you can reflect on what it says about you as a mother that you’ve provided them with so many wonderful books and reading experiences already. If they’re at all saturated, it just means that they are growing up surrounded by books – and how could that be bad? And on Samira’s comment – how very sweet. You’re doing great, Mom.

    1. Thank you! That was a tough Christmas for us, but I look back on it fondly. Our NICU tried to make it special with Santa (who was a very jolly hospital security guard by day) and small holiday gifts for the children. For some families, sadly, it was their only Christmas together. We were lucky.

      I hope my girls will love getting books as gifts. They do enjoy story time at least, and for that I am grateful.

  4. That second scene made me think of Dudley in the first Harry Potter when he got one less gift for his birthday than he had the year before.

    Your kidsexpectations sound likeso really nicedeveloped kids, and I’m sure they will appreciate the books more as gifts as they get older. 🙂

    1. It was so much fun to watch them open their presents! I only wished they loved their new books as much as they love their new firetrucks (and flamingo stuffed animals–they’re really into flamingos these days). They did enjoy story time today, though. So, that’s good.

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