Commentary by Adam Smith

The North Jefferson News

I’d venture to say that when the average American thinks about “Christmas,” their thoughts take on Norman Rockwell-esque grandeur.

I’d say most people (over the age of 30 or 40) think about brightly colored Christmas trees, roaring fireplaces, home-cooked meals and lots of laughter with family and friends. Others may think about the wonders of Christmas Eve or Christmas morning and the thrill of finally getting to open the presents that have been waiting for days and weeks silently under the tree for eager hands to rip them open.

These thoughts are all fine and dandy, and I enjoy thinking about those things, too. However, what most average Americans likely don’t think about in the days, weeks and months preceding the start of the holiday season is the preparation involved in pulling it all together.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that staging the perfect Christmas morning is somewhat akin to winning a Texas hold ‘em championship. Needless to say, it’s a major feat. The stakes of gift-giving are high and one wrong move can lead to breaking the emotional bank.

Christmas morning is the mother of all mornings, “so if you’re going to play the game, boy, you’d better learn to play it right.” I think Kenny Rogers said that in his song, “The Gambler.” And you’re right, Kenny, each Christmas morning is a gamble.

When it comes to shopping for the perfect gift, preparation is key. I’ve actually been out with my mother or sister in the spring or summer and they bought Christmas presents for someone that far in advance.

“Uh, mom, you know Christmas is like four months away, right?”

I’ve come to find out that lots of women do this. It’s another one of those things that separates the men from the ... well, women.

Comedians and college scientists alike have for years marveled over the differences between men and women when it comes to shopping.

I won’t re-plow old ground again, because we all know it’s true. Women are planners and do-ers. Men are just do-ers.

I’m a little bit different when it comes to shopping. Like most other men, I don’t like to spend more than five minutes in any store and I like to move like a CIA operative: Get in, get out, don’t talk to anyone and don’t ask questions. If I get captured by store security, I just give them name, rank and serial number.

This is all fine and dandy until I make my purchases, get them back home and then begin obsessing over them. Did I buy the right thing? Will he/she like it? Maybe I should take it back. No, I shouldn’t, they’ll love it. But will they really like it? Did I get a gift receipt? Why do I need a gift receipt? They’re going to love it.

This year I almost decided to give my family the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I figured if they were good enough for Jesus, they would certainly be good enough for my family and friends.

But this is the modern world and I don’t know where to purchase any of that, so once again I ventured out over the last few weekends and rolled the Christmas dice of fate and bought what I hope would be the ideal gifts.

Luckily, I can never think of a Christmas gift that I’ve ever been disappointed with. My family would say that’s because I actually make a list of what I want for Christmas each year. And while that may sound like I’m playing the odds, it does cut down on the disappointment factor.

More importantly, I’ve never received or given a Christmas gift that wasn’t given out of love. In this season of giving and love, that really is the most important part of it.

So, whether you play it safe or you’re a Christmas gift gambler, remember to always give from your heart. Jesus would be proud.

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