How old might you need to be to remember when Christmas was simpler and more modest?

I’d guess the vast majority of people over 60, 70 for sure, will tell you when they were children Christmas mornings at their house meant the girls got a new doll, and the obligatory gift of new clothes.

The boys in that middleclass family got that one “must have” gift, plus a new pair of jeans, a shirt and a pair of socks. Because there were fewer gifts, the ones you got made a big impression.

Those were the days when families had less, when America had less and we appreciated what we had. In those days, there were more big families and the children had to accept the reality that Santa couldn’t grant all their wants.

If you asked these seniors about their Christmas memories, they would likely start their answers with “We didn’t have much, but…” Just getting the one or two “most desired” gifts was a reason to celebrate. Looking back now, those family members recall the memories with pride and wistfulness.

Today, one special gift for a child, or a “gift to be used by the whole family” probably costs more than a six-member family spent for all gifts back in the 1950s and 1960s. Many from that generation laments that lost innocence and fears that Christmas has become much too commercialized.

I’m sure many of you parents and grandparents have watched your own kids and grandkids open 10 to 20 packages during the extended Christmas season. There might be three or four grand gifts and another 15 to 20 smaller gifts to make the experience last longer.

Then you cringe as your precious child casts aside half of those gifts as being disappointing or no longer desirable because they no longer rise to their expectations or don’t work as advertised, even with fresh batteries.

As your families gather this season, you might find it interesting to ask the older members what they remember most about Christmas mornings when they were five to 17.

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Now that the hustle and bustle of the season nears an end, don’t forget to see and hear the sights and sounds of Christmas. Remember, not all the gifts that you will get will be wrapped in paper and bows.

This is the season of dreams and miracles. Each of us has the opportunity to keep the spirit of Christmas alive, if we make the effort. This is the time of year when treasured lifetime memories are made.

That reminds me of this wise observation: “Live a good, honorable life. Then, when you get older and think back to the ‘good old days,’ you’ll have many fond memories to share with friends and you can enjoy them all over again.”

About 15 years ago, the First Congregational United Church of Christ’s monthly newsletter offered the following essay, titled “If I Knew.” The author was listed as Dawn Huddleston. It seems appropriate to share with you during this special time.

If I knew it would be the last time that I’d see you fall asleep, I would tuck you in more tightly and pray the Lord, your soul to keep.

If I knew it would be the last time that I see you walk out the door, I would give you a hug and kiss and call you back for one more.

If I knew it would be the last time I’d hear your voice lifted up in praise, I would videotape each action and word, so I could play them back day after day.

If I knew it would be the last time, I could spare an extra minute to stop and say, “I love you,” instead of assuming you would know I do.

If I knew it would be the last time I would be there to share your day, well, I’m sure you’ll have so many more; so I can let just this one slip away.

For surely there’s always tomorrow to make up for an oversight, and we always get a second chance to make everything just right.

There will always be another day to say, “I love you,” and certainly there’s another chance to say our “Anything I can do?”

But just in case I might be wrong, and today is all I get, I’d like to say how much I love you and I hope we never forget tomorrow is not promised to anyone, young or old alike, and today may be the last chance you get to hold your loved one tight.

So, if you’re waiting for tomorrow, why not do it today? For if tomorrow never comes, you’ll surely regret the day that you didn’t take that extra time for a smile, a hug or a kiss and you were too busy to grant someone what turned out to be their one last wish.

So, hold your loved ones close today and whisper in their ears; tell them how much you love them and that you’ll always hold them dear. Take time to say, I’m sorry,” “Please forgive me,” “Thank you,” or It’s OK.”

And if tomorrow never comes, you’ll have no regrets about today.