The One Thing I Can’t Remember About Christmas

by | Dec 21, 2020 | Family | 6 comments

The Christmas Presents I got as a Child

When you think back to your Christmases as a child, what do you remember?

Realizing what you remember–and what you don’t–can help you figure out what’s good to emphasize for your own kids!

Today’s my 29th anniversary, and so I’ve invited Rebecca on the blog today to take over and share some memories she has of Gregoire Christmases, but, most importantly, what she can’t remember.

Here’s Becca!

Presents and Christmas: What Kids Remember

When I look back on Christmases from my childhood, I remember three things. 

First, we always baked a birthday cake for Baby Jesus.

We started when I was 3 or 4, and it’s my earliest Christmas memory. It became one of our family’s traditions, since we never did the Santa thing, and because, well, it was Baby Jesus’ birthday after all. Plus my family loves cake. So any excuse pretty much goes.

Second, Katie and I agonized over waiting for my parents to wake up.

One particular time it was 5:15 AM Christmas morning when I was 6 years old, and Katie was 4.

Katie and I weren’t allowed to wake Mom and Dad up until it was 6:30 (pure torture). But we were way too excited to fall back asleep. So Katie and I got out our favourite stuffed animals and started to bargain with the clock. “PLEASE make it be 5:16, clock! PLEASE! Teddy wants it to be 5:16 so badly!” And then it would turn to 5:16 and we’d start all over again with the next number.

We sat and did that for a solid hour and fifteen minutes.

And then we ran as quickly (and loudly) as we could to Mom and Dad’s room, jumped into their bed and wiggled and giggled excitedly until they woke up. And then when we became teenagers the roles reversed! Although Mom and Dad never really wiggled and giggled as much as we did.

Third, it was really laid back.

I remember waking up for Christmas when I was 8 and Katie was 6. We woke up at 6:00 that year, because we heard something. We peeked out of our bedroom door to catch Mom sneaking downstairs with an armful of presents. She froze, paused, and then whispered, “Santa’s running a little late?” 

We laughed and went back to bed, and she let us come down a whole fifteen minutes earlier that year than any of the years before. Score!

Our family did things at its own pace–we weren’t scrambling to drive from one city to the next, but we made sure to see whoever was available. We didn’t stress about having the perfect Christmas tree, or the perfect presents–and it wasn’t a big deal if mom and dad forgot to put the presents under the tree. It was just fun.

But there’s one thing that I cannot remember no matter how hard I try.

And that’s the presents. 

When I look back, 3 presents stand out to me from my childhood (before age 16, since my memory’s still pretty good for the last five years). A foosball table, a giant sleeve of Barbie dresses, and a tea set. And I honestly cannot remember the rest.

I remember opening presents, and I remember being excited about the presents I got, and organizing them in my toy boxes and drawers in my room, and purging old toys to make room for the new ones. But I simply cannot remember what exactly I received.

Christmas Morning Presents

And I think that’s because the highlights of the holiday were never what we got. And we got awesome presents. But most of our Christmas wasn’t about that–gifts were over by 9:00, but our day had only started. My family did such an amazing job of making Christmas about celebrating Jesus and spending time with family–and making that time together fun.

Mom joked around when she forgot to put the presents under the tree. Katie and I bonded by pleading with our clock to speed up time. I stood on a chair to “help” stir the Baby Jesus Birthday Cake, because I couldn’t reach the counter otherwise. It didn’t matter if the tree was perfect (which is good, because it was really ugly), if our hair was curled for the Christmas Eve service, or if everything didn’t go according to plan.

What mattered was just that we were together, and that was made the priority.

So I don’t remember the presents. But I definitely remember Christmas.

The Christmas Presents I Got as a Child

What about you? What was special to you as a child? Let’s talk in the comments!

Written by

Rebecca Lindenbach


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Rebecca Lindenbach

Author at Bare Marriage

Rebecca Lindenbach is a psychology graduate, Sheila’s daughter, co-author of The Great Sex Rescue, and the author of Why I Didn’t Rebel. Working alongside her husband Connor, she develops websites focusing on building Jesus-centered marriages and families. Living the work-from-home dream, they take turns bouncing their toddler son and baby daughter, and appeasing their curmudgeonly blind rescue Yorkshire terrier, Winston. ENTJ, 9w8

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  1. Boone

    I do remember the presents that were right of passage items. I got an Old Timer pocket knife the year I was 8. The year I was 13 I got a .22 rifle.
    My best present ever came in 1983. I was getting ready to start my last year of law school. My grandfather had died after an extended illness the previous October. On Christmas morning With tears in his eyes, Dad handed me a large, long and very heavy wrapped package that said it was from Grandpa to me. Amazed I tore the paper off to discover a double gun case. I opened both sides to find Grandpa’s Model 70 Winchester rifle that he had bought new back in 1940 and his Model 12 shotgun from about 1935. There was also a letter in which he informed me that he had intended to give all of this to me upon my graduation from law school but that God had other plans. He also informed me that he was proud of the man that I had become and that he was leaving me his one half interest in the farm. He asked me to be a good steward of the land and to pass it on to my children some day. Grandpa had given the other half interest to my father as a wedding present. Included was a copy of a quitclaim deed duly executed and recorded.
    That was the day that I felt like I became a man. I still farm that land and I still hunt with both of those guns. Whenever I take meat with either one of those guns I still say the prayer that he taught me as a boy giving thanks to God that he saw fit to sacrifice one of his creatures that my family might eat. When I’m gone the guns will go to my two sons and the land to them and my daughter with hopes that the legacy will continue.

    • Chris

      Boone, yup! A .22 rifle and a couple of bikes. I remember those gifts really well! The toys though, I don’t recall any of them until i start looking at old pictures. Then the memories come back. Although my mom had a habit of hiding presents too well and then forgetting where she put them. I remember once when I was in Uni being given a Transformer toy for Christmas because she had just found it and gave it to me 13 years later. 😂

  2. Anonymous in TN

    That’s a great exercise and I think I’ll use that in the future – holidays, birthdays, vacations – all kinds of things 😁 Thanks!

  3. Anon

    I do remember many of my presents, but that’s possibly because our family was poor and Christmas was the only time we had new toys or books – of course, many of them were only ‘new to me’, but that didn’t matter, I still loved them. And the best year for presents was the year my parents had no spare money at all, so they had to handmake all my presents from materials they already had in the home.
    We had an old engraving of a byre with a feeding trough that hung on the wall near where we used to put our Christmas tree. I must have been about 7 before I realised that it wasn’t a picture of where Jesus was born!
    My best memories are linked to our church though. My father was a church pastor when I was young, and the week before Christmas was full of carol singing around the streets, then we had our church carols by candlelight, and on Christmas Day anyone we knew who would be on their own came to our house for dinner. So Christmas was never a ‘family’ time, but a time when we were encouraged to think about those around us. And because our church was multi-national, I learned about so many different countries Christmas traditions. It was special growing up to realise that Jesus came for everybody, all over the world.

  4. Taye

    This blog was refreshing. I’m glad to see you had happy Christmases even if not everything was “just so.” Jesus’ arrival on this earth was not what we try to make Christmas be today. As a child there were presents and good food and treats but I don’t really remember alot of things that I got either.
    Now this Christmas season will be unusual for us. Hopefully we can create some precious “home memories and moments “ for our littles with not only gifts but experiences. Also hope we can install the real meaning of Christmas into their hearts. This should be more possible with less going on and a positive thing about this year.

  5. L

    We didn’t always have a Christmas tree, my parents came from very conservative roots which I guess is why Christmas was ‘manageable’ and grounded in the true meaning. Sometimes I wished for a bit more hype like my friends got but looking back I’m ok!
    When we did start getting a tree it was really special for us to go with our dad into the bush and find one.
    We had a simple wooden nativity set and for a few years that was the only extra thing we put out.
    My grandparents on one side also kept it very simple. We ate lots of food, sang songs and visited and some time in there got a bag of peanuts with candy and an orange. That simple gift was very special and sentimental, it’s exciting when those bags come out now because it holds such special memories. In fact, that’s the only gift my parents gave us this year and we aren’t left desiring more.
    One Christmas when I was in my teens, the power went out and so we finished Christmas dinner on the BBQ. Cooked the stuffing and the cranberry sauce on it and tried to play a game after where the color of cards mattered and laughed at the chaos of trying to see them. Now as an adult something that stands out about that time is that I don’t remember my parents stressing about the hiccup in our day.
    Another thing is that my parents gladly had other people over for Christmas and were glad to have Christmas any day. They didn’t guard the 25th selfishly.
    I’m thankful this is how Christmases were for me as a child! Something about the simplicity and willingness to share, helps me reflect on Christ and appreciate it isn’t about the gifts or getting things perfect. It is what it is each year and it is usually special in some way, big or small.


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