Every year with the kids, the night before Christmas brings new joys, challenges and memories. This is the one night of the year when we do not have trouble getting the kids to bed. We watch Santa delivering presents on the computer via the “NORAD Santa Tracker” waiting for him get close to Chattanooga. When we start watching he is usually in Europe and makes his way across the Atlantic. This provides us plenty of time to get ready, put the cookies and milk out and make other preparations.
I remember Christmas as a child eagerly awaiting the morning, being too excited to get to sleep but trying desperately so that Santa could bring his presents. Those memories never fade. Now as a parent of three young children, we get to experience their joy and excitement. Seeing them happy means more to us than presents ever did.
As a child, my brother would sleep below me in the bed. To be more accurate, he would keep us up silently during the night hoping that we would not scare Santa away. Dressed in our pajamas and huddled with our teddy bears, we were ready to spring out of bed at first light to see what was awaiting us on Christmas morn. This year Jack’s room seems to be the most popular room in the house. He wanted our old mattress in his room when we had a new one delivered recently and now has two beds in his room (for the time being). All three kids want to sleep, or pretend to sleep, in Jack’s room tonight.
Tonight we will find ways like years past to arrange existing toys, stuffed animals and new presents so that something new and exciting awaits our kids tomorrow. The Toy Story characters from years gone by will be gradually replaced by more sophisticated super hero characters for the boys and “Frozen” items for Sydney. I remember Christmas nights not so long ago staying up late putting bikes or indoor basketball goals together. A couple of years ago, Jennifer rearranged all three kids’ rooms while they were sleeping. Sydney’s room got an owl makeover. Jack’s room became a space themed room. Walkers room developed a sports theme. The kids were in awe that Santa did all that work in their rooms while they were sleeping.
Jennifer already has everything staged in the basement ready to come up. She has already done some of the wrapping but we will do most of our wrapping today. The items from Santa are by one wall and the items from us by another. We’ve discussed what we should give Santa credit for, considering what the kids wrote to him and provided on their “Santa wish lists”. Some other items we know the kids will enjoy we have already discussed wanting to get credit for ourselves.
We may not get much sleep tonight. The kids will want to play all morning with their new toys. Family and friends will stop over. We may have a bit of a mad house early on, but eventually things will settle down. We’ll get our eagerly awaited afternoon naps when the kids go to the neighbor’s house to play.
For many years before I had children, I remembered Christmas as a child and wanted to go back to that time of innocence and wonder. Now as a parent we can experience it once again through our children. It is different but even more rewarding seeing Christmas through their eyes and knowing that we have a part in making it happen for them. My father has been gone several years now but Jennifer’s parents and my mother are still with us. I’m very thankful for all they have done over the years to keep the Christmas spirit alive for us and for our children as well.
I am also very thankful for all of you that we consider friends as well as clients that make Christmas time all that more wondrous.
Data as of December 22nd, 2014
Joe D. Franklin, CFP is Founder and President of Franklin Wealth Management, a registered investment advisory firm in Hixson, Tennessee. A 20-year industry veteran, he contributes guest articles for Money Magazine and authors the Franklin Backstage Pass blog. Joe has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Magazine, USA Today and other publications.
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