Generally, I'm a Christmas-is-better-if-simple sorta guy, appreciating the season as a period of reflection and family more than an adventure into commercialism. It's not that I'm cheap or a scrooge, and the perspective has nothing to do with religion.
It's all about a gift I received from a classmate in 6th grade.
Teacher Jed Castelbaum worked the Christmas season hard at Zela Grade School. Included in the festivities was a gift exchange among classmates. I'm sure there was a dollar limit attached to the exchange, but I don't recall the amount. Considering this was central West Virginia circa 1977, chances are the amount was set pretty low. At the 6th grade Christmas Party we students--minus Ricky, who as a Jehovah's Witness wasn't allowed to attend--opened up our gifts.
Boxes ripped open to revealed toy trucks and dolls, Christmas ornaments and T-shirts. Kids squealed with excitement, and rushed throughout the room to show others what they had gotten. I read the tag on my gift, and nodded to the kid who gave it to me.
In it was a small box of chocolate.
Our eyes met. Worried I wouldn't like or appreciate the gift, he walked over to my desk. "My mom said that's all we could afford." I thanked him, popped open the box and offered him some candy.
We sat together and ate the entire box.
I don't recall if the candy was very good or not. But, even though we had Christmas parties every year I was in elementary school, this small box of candy is the only gift I can recall opening. Ever.
I received others, but none was as memorable as the small sacrifice this family made for a classmate.
Here's hoping your holiday season is peaceful, memorable and rich with happiness.