Getting the Most Out of Christmas

| 12/18/2013 5:23:00 PM

Brian KallerChristmas morning ranks high among most people’s golden childhood memories, the tangible foundation for later abstractions like delight or gratitude. You might be in a college dorm or nursing home, you might not remember yesterday’s lunch or tomorrow’s appointments, but you probably recall opening that first gift from Santa.

So here’s a question: how many second gifts do you remember from your childhood Christmases? How many third or fourth gifts?

Amy Dacyczyn, author of “The Tightwad Gazette,” made an interesting observation about children on Christmas morning: the first present is magical, she said, but the fourth or fifth means far less, and by distracting the child, diminishes the magic of the first present. Moreover, by the time the child receives the fifth present, they are anticipating the sixth, and will feel disappointed when it doesn’t arrive.

A pile of Christmas presents

Photo: Maxim Malevich/Fotolia

We do this even as adults; find out you’re getting a Christmas bonus and you might feel a moment of triumph. Find out you’re getting a second bonus, and you’ll be pleased … but not as pleased as before. Just like the gifts on Christmas morning, two surprises are not twice as pleasurable as one.

12/22/2013 9:38:46 AM

Brian, indeed the times have changed and become more commercialized with each passing year. I have given up trying to out do the presents given last year. My budget is set pretty low since retirement and I will not over spend. This is my 66th Christmas so the fascination with the whole affair has some what lost its excitement. I really don't need any more stuff and I encourage those around me, if they must buy a gift, to buy practical stuff like gift certificates to garden seed catalogs, or grocery stores, or maybe restaurants. Consumables are better than stuff that needs storing for me. Now my grandson Bradley, who's nine, is a different story. His excitement level is much higher than mine. I usually buy one big present and then some much smaller ones for him. ***** Have a great Christmas season day.