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Christmas Memories – How One of My Worst Christmas Memories Was Also One of My Best

Ethan and Evan
Jon Prell

I was going through some material the other day when I came across a story asking people what the most messed up or embarrassing Christmas gift they ever received was and it got me to thinking. I have never really had a bad gift experience either giving or receiving, but I do have one Christmas memory that still haunts me. It really wasn’t anything tragic and after reading about it, it may not seem like much to you, but it is a pretty big deal for me and I am just unable to shake the feeling of guilt I still have over it.

In most families, Christmas is about the kids and even though I do believe Christmas has become too commercialized, the gifts are a big deal for the kids as much as that might bother some parents. My son Ethan is about to turn 12 on December 19th. Having a birthday that close to Christmas can be challenging for both parent and child.

We used to go to great lengths to separate his birthday and Christmas gifts and try and keep them as even as possible even though there were only about five or six for each occasion. His mother insisted on handling that herself and would get very irritated if I ever questioned her about it.

On Ethan’s 6th birthday in 2007 it seemed to me that he opened an usually high number of gifts and his mother said it was because of what the other relatives gave him, but I didn’t think so and of course, I was read the riot act for even bringing it up.

One week later on Christmas Day, my worst fear came true….there were no gifts for Ethan. All of the other kids opened their gifts and the only thing Ethan opened was a very small figurine that was in his Christmas stocking…..he was absolutely devastated because he thought Santa forgot about him and asked me if he was bad. The site of him trying so hard not to cry is burned into my memory. By the way, he never did cry. He was stronger than me on that day. That was the worst part of the memory.

The best part of the memory was when his little brother, Evan divided his gifts into two small piles. He told Ethan he could open the gifts from one of the piles and that he could play with those toys until Santa brought his. Evan always did and still does have his brother’s back and is most definitely his brother’s keeper. I will never forget Evan explaining to Ethan that Santa just made a mistake because he is so busy at Christmas.

Fortunately, ‘Santa’ did manage to leave a few things in the wee hours two nights later. My boys have had  a lot to deal with, but I am so proud of them and couldn’t be any more thankful to have them in our lives. They are a gift for me every single day of every single year. Thank you boys for giving me so much…I love you both so much.

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