Presents aren’t what make happy holiday

By Judy Brandon: Local columnist

The day after Thanksgiving is always highlighted as a busy shopping day. I watched a TV newscast that featured film footage of people camped outside certain stores in hopes to get their hands on the latest PlayStation. I saw people sleeping on cots in line and recycling in fold-up chairs, tucked under blankets, waiting it out in cold weather, trying to be first when the doors of the stores opened to get that treasured item.

That really is in contrast with what I heard the other night as I visited with a group of friends. I was talking with a group of seniors that night, my “focus group.” They ranged in age from 65 to mid-80s. I asked about their most memorable Christmas, but I had to guarantee them anonymity before they would talk.

One told me about spending Christmas each year at Rocklake School House in Roosevelt County. Everyone would get together, and they had a big Christmas tree in the corner. This person got a guitar one year for Christmas. But he said that he always got socks with nuts, oranges and apples stuffed inside. And he was happy to get them — that was the only fruit he got for the entire year.

Another friend said that she was given a bicycle one year for Christmas. but it snowed and she could not ride it. Another, whose mother had died, lived with her father and two siblings. They were poor and year after year she got a coloring book for Christmas — the same book, same picture of an elephant on the front. Year after year, she painted that elephant’s blanket purple. Another friend said that she always got a baby doll for Christmas and was happy to get it. They all got only one or two presents each, but they were thankful to get them.

These wonderful people did not know each other growing up. One grew up in Roosevelt County, another in Tipton County, Tennessee, another in Muleshoe and another in Quail, Texas. Yet, even though their pasts and roots are very different, they had one thing in common and it was evident when I asked the last question.

My last question was this: “Do kids get too much for Christmas these days?” I don’t work for the Gallup organization and I am not an official pollster, but the answers reflected no margin of error. All four said, “Yes!”

Direct comments were: “Kids get too much Christmas these days.” “Way too much, yes, too much. … It is wasteful.” “You better believe kids get too much … so much so that they don’t know how to appreciate what they get!”

Something to think about? Then a couple of Annie’s friends were listening later as I shared my findings from my “focus group.” Her young friends agreed — children have too much and get too much. One remarked: “We just rack our brains trying to think of something to get our kids at Christmas … something they don’t have already.”

Well, I guess it is a matter of opinion but my friends say they were happy as youngsters, in spite of few presents at Christmas time. They felt loved, cared for, and rich in family and friends. The gifts were not what made them feel that way — for each it was the lifestyle of faith in Christ and thus a living hope.

I think it should be not how much we get but to what extent we live our lives in thankfulness to the one who is the source of all life’s gifts — God and his greatest gift, Jesus.

Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: