OPINION: Unwrapping the unique gift that is the Christmas season

Bob Boulton

Not everybody celebrates Christmas, and for some it’s a season of conflicted feelings.

Speaking for myself, though, the night before Christmas is magical. And Christmas morning itself is by leaps and bounds the most exciting morning of the year.

But I am nonetheless ambivalent about some things – gifts, for instance.

Giving gifts to others is OK even though it involves, ugh, shopping and Out Of Stock signs and money. And deadlines are involved.

I can offer one helpful sure-fire tip this holiday season. Do not give a gift on Boxing Day just because it went on sale the day after Christmas. It will not be appreciated. Trust me on this.

But in my role as gift-giver I do exercise some level of control. For instance, I have mostly managed to avoid the temptation of giving our children drum sets, bows and arrows, and games with complicated rules and a gazillion tiny pieces.

OK, there was that dartboard. And the Christmas sweater that lit up. And a tricycle horn that sounded like an enraged duck. But those were exceptions. Temporary lapses of judgment. And I was holding the reins.

As a receiver of gifts, though, we are at the mercy of others. Gifts come in three main categories. One is the gift we wanted but didn’t receive. It’s too expensive for family and friends, or no one knew we wanted it because we hadn’t mentioned it because we believed it was obvious. It wasn’t.

Or it doesn’t come in our size. A Porsche or Spandex yoga pants are examples that come to mind.

Then there are the gifts people think we want, or should want, but don’t. A new gardening hat without grass stains, for example. The old one is just fine, thank you very much. Or a shirt pocket calendar with spaces for notes to eliminate the need for all the little scraps of paper that fall out and get lost under the laptop. We have few shirts with pockets in them.

Or a pedometre. Good heavens, a pedometre. Get a grip.

Then, there are the gifts we do want and that someone actually gives us. This is referred to as the miracle of Christmas.

Merry Christmas, Hanukkah Sameach, Happy Winter Solstice, the ‘Habari gani?’ of Kwanzaa. And all the other greetings we use to celebrate this time of year.

May we all use this occasion to celebrate, each in our own way, as we unwrap the gifts held in common — life, appreciation, and another precious day.

Bob Boulton is a Sarnia writer and the creator of a blog for new and renewing writers, bobswritefromthestart.blogspot.com