By Joe Rector

So, it’s here again. Christmas will arrive on the same day as always, but the speed at which it comes seems to increase with each passing year. I used to dislike it when people said such a thing, but now I realize that with age, everything speeds up. What is important also changes as the years roll along.

As children, we spent hours thumbing through Spiegel, Sears, and General Products catalogs. Every toy we saw was added to our Christmas lists. Our parents rarely had any idea what we actually wanted Santa to bring. Eventually, they finally made “executive decisions” as to what to buy. I never remember being disappointed on Christmas mornings; Mother and Daddy possessed those special powers that led to their picking just the perfect presents for us boys.

When my children arrived, I worried about choosing the right things for them, and after they’d opened those presents, I always tormented them with questions about how satisfied they were with the items they’d received. I continually asked them if they were all right until the question was met with furrowed brows and laser stares.

These days, I still hope we choose things that our children and grandson like. Of course, saving the receipts helps, and then they always appreciate some Christmas money. Amy declares that it is “always the right color and the right size.”

For me, the presents aren’t so important now. Sure, I want to be remembered, but I have no special items in mind for my own gifts. I have everything I need, and unless someone is interested in giving me a new truck or a leaf vacuum for my mower, I don’t think I require much of anything else.

I’m more about spending time with family during Christmas. Having a few days with my grown children, son-in-law Nick, and grandson is a much bigger joy. We pile in on each other and celebrate the season. Sometimes, a person needs a bit of a respite from the noise and commotion, so he retreats to his bedroom. Before long, he returns for another round of chaos. By the time the holidays are finished, all of us are ready for a return to the normal life that is free of so much hubbub. It’s not that we don’t love each other; it’s that too much closeness grates on anyone’s nerves.

Soaking in the season and all that comes with it is a blessing. The truth is everyone loves receiving gifts and spending time with loved ones. At some point during the holidays, I’ll grow a bit moody and even teary-eyed. It happens when I think about those people whom I loved and are now gone.

I look at myself in the mirror sometimes and wonder how in the world I grew so old. My mind is still that of a young man, but the body that houses that mind is filled with aches and pains. I am at that place where my parents and grandparents were in years gone by. What I most need to do now is live in the moment and love my wife and children and grandson as much as possible. At some point they will have to continue Christmas without me. It would be nice if they remember me fondly and even have a few laughs at the goofy things I contributed to the season.

I hope you have the opportunity to spend times with the ones most dear to you this Christmas. Make sure you give them extra hugs and kisses and “I love you’s.” Most of all, bow your head and give a word of thanks to God for giving you these wonderful people. They are the presents that are most important.

Merry Christmas!