One of my most memorable Christmas experiences mostly happened underneath the kitchen table.
Someone at school tried to convince me that Santa didn’t exist so when I was sent to bed on Christmas Eve I waited and waited and waited until everyone had gone to bed. Silently, I then took my blanket, tiptoed into the kitchen and crawled under the table to wait for Santa. Santa wasn’t going to make a fool out of me.
Almost immediately I fell asleep.
I guess I missed Santa because the next thing I recall was seeing my Mom's legs moving around the living room next to the couch where my two brothers and I had safety pinned our Christmas socks, the big wool ones my Dad wore, equal space between each sock. I watched my Mom moving silently. So I waited while she worked. And waited. Soon she returned to bed. And then, of course, I went to take a peek at the gifts she placed on our ratty old couch. It was still dark but there was just enough light...and then, there it was. (Cue music.)
At that point, I forgot Santa. Who cares about Santa when the perfect, perfect gift is perched on the couch just waiting to be played with? A miniature John Deere snowmobile. Green of course. With a little switch and then there it would go, bumping over the carpet and later, lurching over snowdrifts. I think the hood even lifted.
That gift wasn’t from Santa. It was from my Dad. I knew it right away.
I returned to my room with the snowmobile, promptly flicked on my light and turned on the little switch underneath my most awesome little snowmobile.
The whole house woke up.
My mother was probably angry and frustrated by the noise, anxious to get back to sleep, weary from her busy Christmas preparations (the turkey would always thaw in the kitchen sink overnight) but she did one thing exactly right: she let me sleep with my new snowmobile.
I have received many terrific gifts over the years but this is the childhood gift I remember with the most joy.
Kids young and old, this is my message for you: don't spend so much time thinking about Santa. What to give. What to spend. What to do. Wondering when enough is enough? Worrying. None of that matters. Santa doesn't deserve so much of your time. Nor the credit.
Instead, notice what your Mom and Dad do. Or did. Or tried to do. Or gave. And be thankful for them. First.