Christmas is for Kids

Published 8:48 pm Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One of the great marketing campaigns of all time has been the one that has a silly, ole rabbit following a bunch of kids around. The rabbit is trying to trick the kids into giving him some of their cereal. The cereal is the General Mills variety called Trix. Every time the rabbit is “almost” successful, the kids recognize that the rabbit is a rabbit and not a logical recipient of a cereal made for kids.

“Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!” they say. With that same thought in mind, there is no doubt that Christmas is for kids.

Every time I try to think of an appropriate column for this time of the year, I end up going back to the times when I was a kid and recall the wonderful memories of my childhood Christmases. As I see many of you and you are kind to encourage me with your comments, it is clear that you like to remember those Christmases of your youth, too.

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It’s easy to think that Christmas lasts so much longer now; that it begins so soon. It is true that store decorations and emphases on Christmas commerce seem to begin earlier. But, in the mind of a child, Christmas is always near.

It used to be near, even in July, when we would get our hands on a Sears catalogue. Remember those? It could have been called “The Wish Book.” For folks like most of us living in the country or, even small towns, the Sears Catalogue was our connection to a much larger world of retail.

Just as it is hard for children today to even understand what the world was like before hamburgers, pizza and store-bought fried chicken, it is almost impossible for them to know what it was like before there was a mall. Might as well try to explain The Stone Age or 1960. Or what a dirt road is.

The only Toys R Us we knew was in those colored pages of the Sears catalogue. I don’t know how the catalogue would get to our house, but, once it did, we would quickly find those toy pages and circle those items we wanted Santa Claus to bring us. Then would come the waiting game. Christmas would take a long time.

I guess that’s where the saying was born, “What are you waiting for? Christmas?”

In those days past, we had to wait. There was no choice. We didn’t get anything we wanted any time we went to the store. There was no superstore with a super toy department that was full the whole year. So we occupied our time by looking through a catalogue, circling again, and trying to make sure that our parents would see what we had circled. Then they could tell Santa Claus.

I guess that waiting wasn’t all that bad. It helped us to appreciate the actual day of Christmas when it finally came. We were thrilled when the day finally arrived. It seemed to go by so quickly and, as it passed, our minds began to anticipate just how long it would be until the next one.

I can still sense that excitement among children today. As an adult, I am excited, too, but Christmas really is for kids.

My grandson, Cam, lives in Virginia Beach and is 4 years old. That’s a great age for Christmas and, although, he gets plenty during the year, he is hook, line and sinker into Dec. 25. Santa Claus is as real to him as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. I can only imagine what his Christmas morning will be like.

Donna Sue and I have made sure our presents will make it to him and we think that we have made the perfect choice this year. That’s not always easy, especially for one who lives so far away.

Parents get to see their children everyday and pretty well know what they would enjoy under the tree. For grandparents, it’s a hit or miss situation. But, during the Thanksgiving holiday we observed something about Cam that led us to choose what we feel will be a very enjoyable gift.

Sometimes we make the comment that children get so much that they, sometimes, enjoy playing with the boxes as much as they do any of the actual toys. No, we didn’t get Cam a bunch of empty boxes! Plus, one can never count on the cost of a gift being the most enjoyable.

When we were growing up, after we looked at all the gifts that Santa had brought, we might end up playing paddleball most of the morning, trying to see how many consecutive times we could bounce the elastically tethered rubber ball off the small, wooden paddle. The toy might have cost less than a dollar, but gave great joy during the day and afterwards.

Well, what to give Cam could have presented a quandary. We could have simply given his mom and dad a few dollars (maybe many) to buy him something that they would have known he would have liked. When he was visiting our house, however, we noticed what really got his attention. He couldn’t keep his little hands and mind off every flashlight we had.

So, the flashlight in my head went off. The perfect gift for Cam is a flashlight with a plenty of batteries. I asked his mom and she said that would be great.

We sent it last week and there inside the big box with other goodies will be a strangely shaped package and not so neatly wrapped. When he opens it, though, I believe he will open his eyes real wide and I would like to see him when he says with great excitement, “A flashlight!”

It won’t be the most expensive gift he will have, not by a long shot. But he’ll like it and I’ll like him liking it! Christmas is definitely for kids. For all of you young at heart kids who read this: Merry Christmas.