Giving presents. Getting presents. When are we going to open the presents? Did you buy the presents? I have to shop for the presents. Is it time for the presents? Let me get the presents. Do you think that we have enough presents?
I remember, as a kid always looking forward to Hanukkah. What I looked forward to was not for lighting the candles, not for eating latkes, nor for eating the jelly donuts, but for getting gifts! Christmas, bah, humbug – 1 day! Hanukkah, hip-hip hooray – 8 days! I remember being excited for receiving one night, if not twice, money - a shiny new penny. That’s right – A SHINY NEW PENNY! 8 days and a shiny new penny, who could beat that? Then after the winter break, all of us elementary school kids would talk about what we did during the holidays and share our gifts. I think that I brought in my shiny new penny to proudly display for show and tell. There were no ooo’s and there were no ah’s. We learn at a young age how important getting the right gift means to us.
When we were still fairly new to the parenting business, we heard the rumor that Tickle Me Elmo was going to be hottest toy of the season. Like two marionettes, the television advertising agency had grabbed the two sticks and not so gently moved the strings that made us run quickly to our local toy store to buy one of these hot items for our child. G-d forbid our child would miss out on proudly displaying this magical gift that everyone will own. GASP! They were sold out. Gab, our eldest, was only 1 ½ years old, and we were freaked out by the possibility of her not having this toy. Instead, we got her a Bumble Ball, hoping that she would not notice. The poor kid tried to put it in her mouth, which triggered the toy to vibrate. She cried hysterically and then never went near that scary toy again.
Now that our children are older, we tend towards getting gifts that are more practical, like clothing, shoes, etc. Yes, they still get some gifts that are more fun (for example, Jingle Ball tickets). And while I am not a shopper, nor particularly a gift giver, like my wife, it is great to see their happy little face shine with expectation, then joy, when they open their gifts. That is true any time of the year, when it is appropriate to give a gift. I am not sure in which religious writing it states that we should be giving lots of gifts for the holidays, but it is something has become a “tradition”, as long as we remember to teach our children about our respective holiday.
Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!