I was 8 years old when I received my first lesson concerning gifts at Christmas. Of course, like most American boys of that age, I thought Christmas was about ME.
My mom and dad didn't have a lot of money, but they did the very best they could to make sure I had a wonderful bunch of gifts. The main gift for me that year was something called "Fort Apache". Fort Apache was a set of frontier fencing and guard houses, complete with dozens of plastic army soldiers and cavalrymen, horses, wagons, and so forth...and a bunch of plastic native Americans who were the bad guys. This array was set out on our living room floor for me to find on Christmas morning. I was ecstatic when I saw it.
I remained ecstatic for about two hours, which was just long enough for me to discover that my neighbor friends Walter and Allen had been given a BB gun and a football, respectively.
I was quite upset that they seemed to have been given "better" gifts than I. When I informed my dad and mom that I felt that I had been "gypped", my mom had to physically restrain my dad from murdering his eldest son. I had simply not yet learned about the sacrifice my parents had made just to give me that gift and others that they really could not afford.
Years later, when I asked my dad what kind of gifts he received for Christmas when he was growing up, he told me it was a good day if he received some fruit to eat---maybe an apple and a banana and an orange. My, how times have changed.
By the time I was 10 years old, I had learned a thing or three about humility and appreciation. My parents spent the unheard of sum of one hundred dollars on a set of World Book Encyclopedias. That was the only gift I received that year, and I loved those books. By this time I had learned how much one hundred dollars was, and I had also learned how much sacrifice went into their purchase. I kept those books until last year when we moved into our present home---we just didn't have the space for that set of books any more.
Nowadays, children are showered with gifts in such large numbers that they don't even know what all they have received or who gave them what. I was also guilty of this when I raised my kids. But the fact is that parents are certainly not doing their children any favors by giving in such obscene quantities.
Now that I'm older and have been around, I would say that a Christmas day with gifts lovingly given of apples and oranges and bananas would be just about the best Christmas ever.
What are some of your favorite gifts from your past? Did you ever get gypped?