Christmas Memories and Lessons Learned

Now that we’re past Thanksgiving, we can focus on Christmas, traditions, and memories new and old. Let’s not get caught up in the arguments of what to call this season. After all I covered that in my Think About It post last year. We have much better things to do with our time, such as enjoying the family and friends we truly value.

Nonetheless, thinking of past Christmases, a lot of fond memories flood my mind. Among them all, one memory stands out from the rest. Join me as I travel back in time to one of our greatest Christmases when our kids were young. Sit back, and enjoy!


– Jolly Old Spoiler Alert! –

This is a secret revealing story. Proceed with caution.

~ You have now been Warned ~

I believe it was 1997. Our boys were ten and eleven. Money was tight. The bills never stopped. (You know the drill.) Subsequently, my hubby would willingly work any and all overtime available.

As the holidays approached, his job had several project deadlines coming up quickly. Therefore, they opened up overtime for a couple of weeks, including the entire Thanksgiving weekend. (Can you say “two days of double-time pay”?) My hubs volunteered. (YES!) Although, he told me that he had plans for that money and for me not to count on it. (Well, darn.)

Our boys, being young and ever hopeful, had expensive wish lists for Santa. (Of Course! Lol!) My hubs decided to dedicate working those four twelve-hour shifts that holiday weekend to purchase their grand “Santa” gift. We were stoked!

Fast forward to Christmas morning.

We had bought them each a few small gifts from Santa, plus other gifts from us. For the “grand” gift, we bought a fancy Christmas card and wrote them a note from “Santa” inside. The note informed them that their gift would not fit through the doors or windows, and noted we had no fireplace for him to “magically” bring the gift inside. Therefore, their joint gift was left on our back patio.

They read the card together with scrutinizing detail. And again. Then… A moment of silence. Suddenly, they fled to the window in the dining room which overlooked the patio. Gasps and excitement filled the air! There on the back porch was a yellow two seat go cart with black accents. It came decked out with full seat-belts, a roll cage, and a 6 1/2 horse Briggs and Stratton engine.

They were SO excited! We were excited. I think even the dog was excited. Lol! They kept going on and on about getting their top wish list item. All of us had huge grins on our faces. It was an awesome moment! It was the stuff of dreams.

In the midst of those moments the now infamous phrase was spoken. Our oldest, with eyes filled with awe, proclaimed, and I quote, “Now I know Santa is real. Because mom and dad could never afford to buy that“. Our other offspring quickly agreed.

“Oh, yes! We had them!”

That was my first thought. Woohooo!!! My hubby’s response was quite different. He was not so happy.

The look on his face said it all; dad was not a happy camper. Meanwhile, none the wiser, the kids carried on about how awesome and real Santa was. And we stood behind them while my hubs scowled and quietly said something about no credit earned by the dude in the red suit. I shushed him. We had finally convinced them after all. Right?!?

Well, my wonderful hubs, and awesome father of our children, let us have our fantasy. He played along. And that story of the go cart Christmas has been retold with glee ever since. That was the year the kids received their recurring top wish list item and we won the make believe battle. It would continue for a little while longer. Yay!

Behind the Scenes

My husband later explained why he became so upset with the credit for the go cart going to Santa. It was him that had worked all those exhausting hours with the sole goal in mind to be able to finally purchase a go cart for the kids. And he wanted a nice go cart. Aside from working those hours, he spent a lot of time researching go carts (without the internet) before the overtime check came in. He was proud of his hard work and research.

He wanted the kids to know and understand it’s costs. To my husband, that gift was such a monumental accomplishment for us that he wanted to somehow fully celebrate everything it symbolized. Giving full credit away, kind of stole that thunder. Well, not kind of. It completely stole his thunder. For that, and that alone, I’ve slowly changed my Christmas philosophy over the years since then.

The Lesson I Learned…

…was that parents work hard to give their kids a nice Christmas, and birthdays, and homes, and on, and on, and on. As far as Christmas traditions go, sometimes its not a complimentary experience for the kids. When I was a kid myself, our grand / biggest / most expensive Christmas gift always came from Santa. It was the same in my husband’s family when he was growing up. Therefore, without much thought, that was the pattern we followed with our children.

That isn’t the only way that the Santa scenario shakes down though. There are three ways most people do the whole Santa thing. One: there is no Santa. Problem solved. Two: Santa gives the “big” gift, and possibly more; other gifts are from the parents. Three: The parents give the “big” gift, plus some; and Santa gives other gifts. Now that my kids have grown, and I’ve observed other households, I’ve changed my preferences on the whole thing.

If I had it to do over again…

I would have us (the parents) giving all the big gifts, and let Santa give basic smaller random gifts. There are several benefits to this, but two main ones come to mind. First and foremost is that my kids would have seen how proud their dad was to be able to finally make their big wish a reality. And, in practice, working moms and dads everywhere would be recognized for their hard work. (Well, in a perfect world they would. lol)

Another quick benefit is that it might alleviate the vast differences between Santa gifts among kids throughout a school, or peer group. I could never quite explain away why Santa brought Joey the latest video gaming system with ten new release games, while Mikey received from Santa two board games, a few shirts, underwear, and some candy. Those disparaging differences always seemed strange.

So, as I see it, letting the parents give the “big” gift could possibly bring the Santa gift into a more evenly matched range with other Santa gifts. It’s a thought anyway. And, one I’d definitely give a shot at if I had to do it all again.

Luckily, I don’t anticipate that happening. So, I’ll just cling to my memories. And enjoy the retelling of The Go Cart Christmas and how we finally convinced our boys that the big guy in the red suit did indeed deliver a prized gift to our very own patio. And it was awesome!

Merry Christmas! And may you make amazing memories this year that you’ll recall for years to come.


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