Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Take my word for it: The gifts of Christmas

From page A4 | December 18, 2013 |

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!” ― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

We watched the movie versions of the classic Dr. Seuss story — both the cartoon one and the adaptation starring Jim Carrey — and the above was the message I wanted my daughter to hear most. In fact, during the cartoon version, I actually paused the movie for a short conversation.

“You see, although people get presents on Christmas for fun, that’s not what Christmas is all about,” I told her. I tried to think of the best way to make my daughter feel guilt-free for receiving gifts in the coming week while also realizing that they aren’t all that important to begin with. With a 5-year-old, this can be a challenge. “Christmas is about spending time with the people you love, like your family, and enjoying every minute you get with them.”

A back-and-forth followed about the origin of gift-giving, and even the origin of Christmas altogether, both of which I did my best to explain from my upbringing. I’m not a historian, but I know a little bit about a little bit. We ended up though right back at the gifts.

“The gifts are just another way to show people you love them, but they aren’t the only way. And not all gifts are presents wrapped up under a tree, too.”

I was confusing her even more at that point. Sometimes, with all the symbolism surrounding this holiday, you can get just a little too deep.

I simplified it to this: “We don’t have to give gifts on Christmas. We want to.

That’s the point I’ve reached in my life, at least. I understand there’s over-commercialism ongoing, and that with young kids, we as parents are being exploited by corporations during this time of year to buy whatever cheaply made but expensively priced toy is hot on the market. It’s how these corporations get into the black before the new year. I get it.

Part of me cares, so I try to teach my kids certain lessons before we hand them their gifts: Be thankful for what you already have; don’t expect more than you can earn on your own; give to others without expecting others to give to you; etc. But part of me doesn’t care, too. Part of me just wants to see their faces light up on Christmas morning when they open something they really wanted (or have been told to want).

So I’ll get my kids toys, and a bunch of other stuff they actually need. I’ll wrap them and put them under the tree, and I’ll even let Santa take credit for bringing a few of them. But I’ll also make darned sure my kids know that what’s most important right now isn’t what they’re playing with for the next few days.

Before and after the unwrapping of gifts, my daughters will spend hours, days, a week with their aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. My oldest will show family she hasn’t seen in a while the new tooth growing where she lost her first one. My youngest will demonstrate her ability to now fully perform the song “You Are My Sunshine,” hand gestures and all. They’ll both probably stay up past their bedtime watching holiday classics, stuffing their faces with goodies we try to never bring into the house otherwise.

Maybe we’ll find snow and have a snowball fight, or I can teach two little girls and their cousins how to properly throw a football. Who knows? As long as we’re all spending time together having fun, I don’t really care what we do.

Because, really, those are the gifts of Christmas. Those moments, the ones we have to wait an entire year for sometimes, are the real blessings during the holidays.

Those gifts come “without ribbons,” they come “without tags.” They come “without packages, boxes or bags.” No Grinch can steal those presents, and those lucky enough to unwrap them next week will enjoy the true spirit of Christmas.

“Christmas, children, is not a date,” American educator, teacher, scholar and author Mary Ellen Chase said. “It is a state of mind.”

Patrick Ibarra is the managing editor of the Mountain Democrat. His column appears bi-weekly.



Patrick Ibarra



Six file for Dist. 2

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

District 2 candidates forum Aug. 14

By News Release | From Page: B1

EID ditch customers get relief

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A1

Veterans receive wildland fire training

By News Release | From Page: B1

Market data open for local biz

By Ross Branch | From Page: B1

Heard over the back fence: Attorney to warn about scams

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

Road zone of benefit protester reaches dead end

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Volunteers clean up national forest

By News Release | From Page: A3 | Gallery



My turn: Special interests at EID

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A4

Russian metastasis

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

The Democratic-Chronicles: Not invented here

By Gene Altshuler | From Page: A4



DA hogging Main St. parking

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

CAO and staff hiring friends

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Altshuler’s hypocrisy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Small Farm compromise

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

EID and Dale Coco

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5



Roundup: July 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Dolphins ring up another title

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Sharks defeat Loomis Basin in season finale

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Celebrity golf at Tahoe

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Dodgeball: Not the national pastime but …

By Shane Theodore | From Page: A7 | Gallery



At a glance: Comets to meteors

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Taste the best at the State Fair

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Tractor Supply Store recognized

By Uc Cooperative | From Page: B3

Amador Fair honors cowboys

By Amador County Fair | From Page: B3

Arbor Day book helps to identify trees

By Arbor Day | From Page: B4

Learn about lavender and its many benefits

By Christian Women's Connection | From Page: B4

Lee’s Feed appreciates customers

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B5

My Time meeting in August

By Senior Day | From Page: B5

Builders’ Exchange honors scholars

By El Dorado Builders' Exchange | From Page: B5

En garde at Silver Screen Classic

By Auburn Silver Screen | From Page: B5



Weather stats 7-22-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Crime Log: July 8-10

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2



Walter Vali

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Jean Lachelle Taylor

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Arthur J. Funston

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8

New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Flying McCoys

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Thursday, July 24, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Wednesday, July 23, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A8

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8