Life is like a necklace.

Each moment in our lives represents a bead on the ever-growing string of sparkling or lackluster gems. But, it is our attitude and approach to the finite moments of our existence that determine whether a particular moment will become a dull bead or a shiny one.

Let’s look at Christmas as an example. Children anticipate the arrival of the holidays, which includes Santa Claus in many places, with unabashed excitement. They have lists of gifts they desire. Not surprisingly, those lists usually include lots of toys. In their minds, there is no shame in presenting a toy catalog or a direct internet link to a toy manufacturer’s website when they write their letters to Santa.

They may be young, but prove themselves to be shrewd planners. To cover all possible gifting bases, their parents and grandparents receive a copy of the letters they write to the jolly old elf.

Children want everything they see advertised or at a friend’s house. Deep in the recesses of their greedy little hearts, they know that only a few of their requests will be considered. But it is the suspense of not knowing that feeds their anticipation and excitement. What gift or gifts on their lists will eventually make their way under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning?

But as they grow up, the simple excitement of the holiday is bred out of them. Believe it or not, but all the harried adults we watch scurrying from store to store or from website to website evolved from the wide-eyed young children they used to be.

Hubby and I fondly recall those Christmases of long ago when our son and daughter were young.

Both of the children loved getting presents, but it was our son who embodied the barely contained excitement and anticipation of what would be under the tree.

Santa’s helpers had to stay up late on Christmas Eve because our bouncing baby boy found it difficult, if not impossible, to fall asleep. When he finally succumbed to exhaustion, the flurry of activity by the helpers would commence.

If the stars were aligned just right, we might get to sleep until around 2 or 3 on Christmas morning before our sleep-deprived eyes were forced open. After all, who can sleep with all the screaming and laughter permeating the entire house?

But there was one memorable Christmas morning when our bouncing baby boy outdid his past records of impatience. It was 12 midnight when Pa and Ma finally finished their elfin chores. They crawled under the covers. Then there were those utter moments of bliss. The time when their bodies savor a supine moment of bliss that parents, more than any other folk, tend to appreciate but rarely experience.

At 12:05 ante meridian, The Boy could wait no longer. He dragged everyone out of bed to open gifts. Even his sister grumbled at the ungodly hour but soon got into the swing of things as gifts piled up around her. But when all the gifts were opened, Pa, Ma, and Sister shuffled back to bed for a few more hours of shuteye, leaving The Boy engrossed in playing with his new toys.

And yet, the same male child has grown into a minimalist, requiring very little in way of material things.

Some youngsters have learned the valuable lessons of moderation at an early age, either from their parents, grandparents or the circumstances of their lives. They appreciate whatever they have, and their Christmas letters reflect that attitude.

Wars tend to displace people from their lives, homes, and countries, and World War II was no exception. A woman was sorting through a box of childhood keepsakes her mother had given to her on the day of her wedding. In the box was a post-war Christmas letter she wrote when she was five.

“Please bring my baby brother a chocolate bar. Please bring my mother a chocolate bar. Please bring my father a chocolate bar. And please bring me a chocolate bar, too. Love you and Merry Christmas.”

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