I have to admit, as I have grown older, opening gifts has become a very methodical process. I take the package, I find some weak points in the wrapping design, and after a few select rips, I slide the package from it’s sheath. The discarded paper is folded and placed in a relatively organized pile near my stack of already opened presents. I usually receive some ridicule for my efforts.
I had more passion when I was younger. Opening presents was less an exercise in efficiency and more a raging hurricane. Presents would leap into my arms, the paper tearing and flying before my eager hands. I would rip and shred until every inch of my new gift was unveiled; only then would I stop to revel in it’s awesomeness. I bathed in the glory of my opened package, sometimes hooting and hollering in my excitement. If the person who gave it to me was there, I would deliver heartfelt thanks. Then, after placing the gift gently aside in it’s special place, the fervor would begin anew.
I still feel the passion for opening presents, and my thanks are no less authentic than before, I am simply less demonstrative in my devotion. I find immense joy in waking on Christmas morning, making some tea, coffee, or hot cocoa, turning on some jolly tunes, and reveling in the horde of unopened goodies. For me, there is nothing quite like the colorful spread fanning out from the base of the twinkling tree.
My fever for opening gifts has receded as my focus shifted more towards the other reactions around me. When I was little, I would join in the exclamation of “cool,” “awesome,” or even “bodacious,” as my brothers or cousins would discover their newest toy. Just as quickly as I joined them in their excitement, I would return to my own search. Now, I see my own youthful reactions in people around me. I witness the glint in their eye, the trembling of their fingertips as the ache to open the next one, the gasps of surprise as they spy their heart’s desire beneath the wrapping.
Samantha’s extended family always does their Christmas the day after. We gather at an Aunt’s house and celebrate with the traditional Christmas fare, gorging ourselves on various meats and sides, stretching the waistlines with just one more bite of pie. I always look forward to the opening of the presents. The young kids are the only ones to receive family gifts, so the adults sit back, watching the mayhem unfold. Get too close and you might be collateral damage.
The best part of the entire event happens their faces. While at first they display a grim sort of determination, as they tear open the colorful paper bliss quickly soothes their firmly set features as their efforts are satisfied. They laugh and giggle, smiling at each other and at the adults who made it possible. Afterwards, the put their toys to use, eager to fulfill the happy potential they felt upon seeing them the first time.
As I watch the kids in their fun, I feel the same emotions I once felt when little. I empathize with their joy, remembering the innocence of Christmas morning, when it was natural to revel in yourself for a bit. Now I revel in the excitement of others. Instead of an explosion of torn paper, there is an expansive smile, twinkling eyes replace my raucous shouts, and dare I say, my midsection quivers like a bowl full of jelly as I laugh. Only the expression has changed; the joy of Christmas morning remains the same.
Merry Christmas to everyone. May joy be delivered to you in a variety of ways this holiday season.