That Daisy cost twice as much as the one I asked for, but to spoil me Santa always had to go bigger and better, even if it was disappointing.
At our house, even when we deserved a lump of coal, we got a coal mine. Christmas was a major production focused mainly on gluttony and greed — two of St. Augustine’s seven deadly sins.
There are some other memories of those days when I was young and Santa and Mrs. Claus were generous to a fault.
I played Joseph in the fourth-grade pageant when we could celebrate Christmas in public school. While having nothing in common with the earthly father of Jesus, I was the biggest boy in class. Even then, it was obvious that size often trumped talent.
My mother raved like I was Gregory Peck. You might have thought I even had some lines to say other than to just stand there looking pious and large.
I wish that my parents had known what I have come to learn. A bigger Christmas is not always a better one.
The voices of Santa and Mrs. Claus that I heard upon waking from my childhood slumber are silenced now. They live in my memory, but I’d love to have them here just one more Christmas. They’d be welcomed even if they came empty-handed.
My father died nearly four decades ago, and my mother joined him some 10 years ago.
My sister and I are orphans together like something Charles Dickens might describe, only older and with our own Santa jobs to do for our own families. Each gathers with as much family as can make it home, wherever home may be.
I no longer count the number of presents as I did as a child, believing that the size of the haul was important. What I do now is count the joy of family and home.
Each Christmas marks a year of being naughty and nice, and I am still more of the former. But the joy of Christmas is really about not deserving anything and getting the best, nevertheless.
Christmas for us is, as intended, a religious holiday.
My gift to my children is the disappointment of never getting a Red Ryder BB gun or even a Daisy pump.
I know they could put an eye out.
• Mike McLellan can be contacted by calling and leaving a message at 830-4231 or emailing him at DrMikeM@sbcglobal.net.