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But alas, I witnessed the ugly side of Christmas "gifting" theother night on TV. Young kids opened "horrible" early Christmasgifts from "Santa" while their parents, barely able to containtheir stifled giggles, videotaped their precious progeny openingthese "horrible" gifts. The gag was about their kid's reaction upondiscovering the awful gift. It was supposed to be funny.Seriously?

Folks were invited to capture these hilarious (?) outcomes andsubmit them to a late-night TV show. And now, like really badholiday fruitcakes, these video bits are seeping all over theInternet. I hope I'm not being redundant when I say, "Bah!Humbug!!"

These "horrible" set-up gifts consisted of giving, for example,a boy gift to a girl, or a girl gift to a boy. Oh, hahaha. Orrigging a gaily wrapped package with an old hammer inside. Or apartially eaten sandwich. Or an old, rotten banana. Oh, stop me,please; I'm about to bust a gut here from laughing.

I won't depress you with the "fun" reactions these darlings hadupon opening their fake gift. Or the bad names kids were callingSanta - and their own parents. What I WILL tell you is that Iremember a lady who taught me many moons ago the proper way toaccept a gift - any gift, even a "horrible" one (such as socks).That lady was my mom.

Maybe it was because it was the '50s, and although the countrywas prospering, my upbringing was modest and, by golly, weappreciated every gift we got. And we said "thank you" for thosegifts. Even had that gift been an old, rotten banana.

These days, we get stuck between a rock and a hard place atChristmas. Commercialism has had its way with us over theintervening decades since I was a believer in Santa. Plus wereally, really love our kids and want them to have everything theirlittle hearts desire, right? Oh, yes, I succumbed to the siren'ssong of "more is better" at Christmas when my daughters weregrowing up. And again when the grandbabies started coming.

And then I wondered ... would my kids - and theirs - remembereach and every gift like I did when I was a little kid who believedSanta truly "heard" what I wanted for Christmas? Will gifts stillfeel so special when there is ever more and more "stuff" left underthe tree?

So this year I found myself wanting to change it up a bit. Andso did my daughters. We wanted to make Christmas feel magicalagain, but not by raining down multitudes of gifts upon theprecious heads of our progeny. We started discussing "experiencegifts." Spending time together, doing things as a family. Creatingtraditions. And lasting memories, such as this one:

Last year one of my good friends, her hubby and granddaughterfound a needy family and helped make a memorable Christmas forthem. Bought a tree, a stand, a few ornaments and gifts - even agift card for the supermarket so the family could enjoy a niceChristmas dinner. Then they hauled the whole shebang to thefamily's cramped apartment in a not-so-great neighborhood in SanJose.

Wow - what a concept! Finding Christmas somewhere other than themall: now maybe that's the spirit of Christmas!

So perhaps this year we can remember those ungrateful kids on TVwho were taken for a fall by their very own parents because maybe,just maybe, the attitude of gratitude is a lesson that could belearned again. Even if it's for something as ordinary as a rotten,old banana.

Here's wishing that the gifts of peace, love and joy are underyour tree at Christmas.


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