As a father, I love Christmas time. For one, the kids are usually on pretty good behavior — there’s something in it for them.
I also like the way Christmas looks — the decorations, the baking … the mess of wrapping paper in the fireplace. And then there’s the cards — friends sending you pictures of their adorable kids in those hysterical posed “candid” shots … accompanied by a 4-page rundown of their accomplishments of the past year (“…and Tanner was the third lead in the 4th grade Columbus Day play!”).
Seriously, how can you not love it? The Charlie Brown Christmas music, buying trees at the grocery store, egg nog and so much more? I truly love Christmas time, because it’s all about the kids — the build-up, the anxiousness, the frenzy …
My mother was the Queen of Christmas. To hold onto the excitement as long as possible, my parents used to make my siblings and I line up at the top of the stairs, sometimes by height, or by age, or alphabetically — often times changing that after the 5 of us had already lined up (with the baby, of course, already downstairs). When we finally were allowed, we’d run down the stairs like on a prison break.
I have tried my own version of this, which is: You can’t come into the living room and look under the tree until I have my coffee, or until the fire is lit, or until I finish putting this %&*% toy together … (Who knew Chinese toy makers spoke IKEA?) …
Bottom line is, kids love Christmas and as long as you give them your love — and something they can talk about at school — you’re doing it right.
While I’m a big believer in not focusing on the commercial part and really teaching about giving more than getting … they’re still your kids, and you want to give. My rule is: you get them the thing they want most, even if it’s a little more than you wanted to spend. (A little more — not like the difference between a Big 5 bike and a $5,000 racing bike).
And if you can, you also get them one or two other things that were on their list — the things they had as their “safety” requests, in case they didn’t get the thing they wanted most. If you can, getting picks 1, 2 AND 3 makes it a truly joyous day — especially if you give them in this order: 2, then 3 … and then 1. Trust me.
You also get them socks and underwear and school stuff — all stuff they need but would never ask for. Put them in the stocking, or wrap them up and say they’re from their aunt, or uncle or someone else if you really get the spirit of giving — because that way you’re giving socks AND props to someone else in the family.
Finally, give some silly gifts, Dollar Store kind of stuff — and one board game or adventure or tickets to something you can all do together — even if it’s “over the hill.” The kids will be happy, and you have more time ahead having fun with them. They might even continue the good behavior!
Like I said, you really can’t go wrong with the kids at Christmas time.
As for the woman in your life ….
(Part II will come on Sunday)
Mike Brennan has been a Pulitzer Prize-nominated newspaper reporter, a magazine writer, an investigative journalist, a nationally touring stand-up comedian, a joke writer for the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, a morning radio host, a professional auctioneer for numerous charities, an editor, and a film and TV script consultant. He is currently working on a romantic comedy screenplay, and a humorous book on being a father, called The Tooth Fairy Doesn’t Pay for Yellow Teeth. He has lived in the Valley for 19 years, and has two teenage sons. Contact the author.