What Christmas Really Means

Painting by Norman Rockwell

By DYLAN KANE, Gators East Staff

December 24, 2008

I clearly remember that whole night. I was 7 years old at the time and still full of anxiety over the whole fact that a mysterious man came to my house in the middle of the night and brought me gifts.

I was a bit skeptical about the thought, but then again, what was there to be upset about? It was free gifts for being good all year. Or at least that’s what we all thought when we were younger.

Sometimes you couldn’t help but wonder, “Where did some of these other gifts come from before Christmas, if Santa only brought gifts on Christmas?”

We didn’t know it then, but when we were at school, Mom and Dad went shopping for us. They spent all year, saving just for their little boy or girl, so that we could have a better Christmas than they did. They wanted to keep us happy.

They wanted our Christmas morning to be one of the best part of the end of the year.

As we got older, we all started realizing that Christmas was never about the gifts; it was about spending time with the people we cared for the most.

It makes me think of what happens when a relative who always came over for Christmas, or any other occasion, moved away couldn’t come over to see me for Christmas anymore.

My spirit dies a little.

Then, one year, they come back to surprise me. And then I get to see them and spend time with them for that day. That’s the real gift. That’s the real meaning of Christmas. Family.

December 25

My parents have this weird tradition of waking up at 3 a.m. to open presents. Oddly enough, my mom always took pictures of me sleeping every Christmas morning. I never knew why, but it was always funny seeing my hair messed up in 30 different ways.

The real embarrassing thing was that she’d even film me walking down the hallway looking like a zombie.

Come to find out the reason we woke up so early was so that my parents could get food started for my relatives for when they brought my family presents.

They even had a present for my dog, BB. He was a chocolate brown Dachshund, who was literally always by my side. He was always be happy to meet new people.

One day he ran away. Nobody knew what happened to him.

Christmas was never about how much money you have, or where you lived or any of that. It was a day of the celebration of family. And it always has been.