As we grow older, I think it's a perfectly natural truth that we strive and stress ourselves out trying to plan and throw the perfect idealistic Christmas holiday for the kids. After all, odds are there's at least one picturesque Christmas from your childhood that you have sweet memories of, and all you want to do is give that kind of memory to your own kids.

I watch my middle sister go through it each year. She exhausts herself trying to come up with the perfect gifts for my nephews. It probably stresses her out like it does most parents. She works so hard to create this TV episode, happy storyline, perfect holiday for them, but I don't think a parent has to.

At least, I don't think it's something you can necessarily plan.

There are a handful of ideal Christmas memories that I have from my childhood. I talked to my sister about those particular years a few nights ago and I realized something, the gifts weren't what we remembered.

OK, that's sort of a lie. There was one Christmas after our father had just gotten a big promotion where he and my mom gifted each of us kids our very own 13" TV for each of our bedrooms. They had remote controls and they were in color. I'm not super old, but a lot of cheap, small TV's in the mid-90s were still black and white... but it wasn't the actual TV that made that year so memorable, it was the huge shock and happy faces of everyone in that room at that moment that we all remember.

One of my favorite Christmas memories was the year we had no gifts. I can't tell you how old I was, but it was another of my favorites. We grew up pretty poor in a single-wide trailer. A big family of five on a single salary that was barely on the edge between lower and middle-class, and this is the first Christmas present I can remember in life.

The whole family ended up at our grandparents' for the holiday, but Santa still came, sort of. All the grownups slept in the bedrooms, we kids slept on the living room floor. Waking up on Christmas morning, each of us had a paper bag full of presents I'll never forget.

There was a toy license plate with my name on it, a Lifesavers "book" of hard candies, a little chocolate, a bracelet, and a Love's gas station keychain. It was the shape of a heart and said "Love's" across the inside. We couldn't believe Santa knew we were there, and better yet, since they had a floor furnace, how did he sneak in?

Grandma fried eggs for breakfast, the kids played outside on a nice SWOK Christmas day, grandpa yelled at us for climbing on the shed... again... for the millionth time... I can remember the wind making me squint as I rode my cousins' tiny dirtbike around the yard feeling like a real motocross racer, the pain of the grass-burrs when I crashed, and the comfort I felt when my uncle pulled them out with his pliers.

The other day my boss had his two little girls in the office for a bit. I'm everybody's favorite uncle so naturally, I had to ask them what they told Santa they wanted this year... A pony? Pink motorcycles? An iPhone or tablet perhaps? An InstantPot so mom could hard-boil eggs without making the house smell like fart? No. None of that stuff.

The older daughter, maybe six or seven said she wanted a snowglobe.

The younger one, three or four years old asked for a fluffy pillow.

In a world where kids have almost limitless crap, phones, laptops, and gadgets, these two kids each wanted some really simple gifts. It may have been the sweetest thing I've ever heard out of the mouths of children.

For reference, when I ask my ten-year-old nephew, he says "A side by side." It's like a modern-day $30,000 dune-buggy. When I told him "I can't afford something like that, I have a house to pay for." he replied, "Sell your house."

The older 15-year-old keeps it simple, he just wants a $10,000 motorcycle.

It's not a secret, my nephews are the only kids in the family between our three siblings, so naturally, they're pretty spoiled and have no idea what a dollar is.

Even so, when I talk about Christmas' past with them, they never remember what presents they got... they only remember the fun stuff like sledding down the hills that one year we had snow or the time they got to be included in the grown-up game-time.

The point is, don't kill yourself this year thinking you can orchestrate the perfect Christmas holiday for your kids. You can't. It's not something you can plan, it's just something you have to let happen. Sure, they'll be excited about the gifts for now, but this time next year they won't even remember what they got. Try making memories instead.

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