Christmas should be about remembering the meaning of the holiday and my family did that by attending beautiful candlelight services on Christmas Eve and singing traditional Christmas carols around town. Gift giving was a part of Christmas, too, for my brothers and me. In those days we had S&H Green Stamp stores. Right before Christmas, Dad would take us there to redeem our points we had accumulated all year by pasting little green stamps into books. The store had a fantastic array of (cheesy) merchandise ranging from toasters to TV trays, and even great toys were on display. We always found gifts for the whole family there. Note to self: Find out what happened to Green Stamp stores?
There were also big anticipated gifts. Mom evidently had a direct line to Santa who needed to know exactly what we wanted right after our summer birthdays. Just to make sure he’d gotten the word, I sleuthed around the house carefully poking, lifting, and prying into Mom’s secret hiding places to see what we were getting. She always hid the presents in the same places so what we were getting was about as surprising as the baby chicks we always got at Easter. We could hear those little pink and blue birds peeping in the furnace room for a week before Easter Sunday.
Anyway, the big deal Christmas morning was always the stockings. In fact, Christmas for us was all about the stockings.
We got to open one gift from under the tree Christmas Eve. We usually selected the semi-boring-usually-religious gift from our aunt and uncle. Of course, Santa never wrapped the gifts from him; nor did he fill the stockings until some mysterious time after we all went to bed.
Christmas stockings stuffed to over-flowing with candy and trinkets greeted us at dawn. That’s what we looked forward most and still remember as the very best part of Christmas morning.