Christmas was a magical time back in the 1950's and 60's
Today, there are few fairy tales and happy childlike times for kids. So much reality stares us in the face through the media and that includes our children, as well. I, for one, think that the myth of Santa Claus was not a bad thing. We children had a lot to look forward to and it wasn't only in the form of material things. It was family and being together.
During the season, we usually asked for one gift. One year it was bicycles. We were so thrilled to receive brand new bikes that year. My mother perpetuated another myth. We all thought that we had so many gifts under the tree. She bought our school clothes, including socks and underwear and saved these for Christmas. She carefully wrapped every gift and hid them well.
Then there was the inevitable truth. Kids in school told me over and over that there was no Santa, I fought with them, instead of laughing about it. I suppose I liked the idea of earning presents and trying to be a good person. When I finally allowed myself to face the truth, I delighted in conspiring with my parents to keep the idea going for my younger siblings.
One Christmas Eve when I was about 6 years old, I woke up and saw a gift dragged into the living room. I was half asleep and I believed my mother when she said, " Santa won't come if you are awake, now go to sleep so he can bring gifts to our house." I was gullible but I wanted to accept the whole story. It helped that my grandparents lived close by and perpetuated the tale.
Years later, when I was in high school, I spent Christmas Eve picking up gifts from stores like a good elf for my mother since there were many other younger siblings waiting patiently for the red-suited guest. That night I had to bring a wagon back from a neighbor's home where it was hidden. It had snowed that year and the bell on the wagon clanged loudly until I could silence it. The next morning my youngest brother said he heard Santa because he heard bells during the night. It was fun to be part of the conspiracy.
I suppose that holidays are more important for older people, as well. Presents are certainly less desirable than seeing loved ones. Two years ago, I witnessed the best gift of all. My blind 92 year-old Dad was sitting at my daughter's home in a chair right near the tree. My two year-old grandson walked over to him and pointed to the trains moving around tree. He kept saying"trains" and then proceeded to explain, in baby talk, all about them. My father smiled and listened intently to the explanation. Then, my two-year-old granddaughter walked up to him and told him all about her day in baby talk, Again, he smiled and listened intently. I do believe that that was the best gift he received that year. He did not want any thing when we asked what he wanted.
As it turns out, that was his last Christmas with us and I know that the little ones brightened the holiday for him.