“Could you take Declan out so I can wrap some presents?”  I sent the boys out to do I-don’t-care-whatever so I could start wrapping.  I go to bed early.  I haven’t been able to wrap with Declan poking his head out pretending to read, doing Rubik’s Cubes or making “emergency” Lego monsters to defend himself while he sleeps.  Presents don’t wrap themselves.

There’s nothing worse than staying up 24 hours straight on the 24th to get 100% of it done.  Wrapping that could otherwise have been joyous turns into torture when it’s last minute.

First world problem to be sure.

Besides, I forget if I bought things or if I thought about buying them.  Time to take inventory.

“Just make a list.”  Ineffective.  “Did I buy it and mean to put it on the list or is it not on the list because I didn’t buy it?”  I’m never sure.

The only solution is to wrap early.

I sing. I wrap. I decide my shopping for Declan is nearly done.

But there’s the matter of the cat and the iPhone on his Santa list.

“Santa,” I decide to say, “Doesn’t bring animals–too dangerous packing them all on his sleigh…and you have to be 13 or have a job to get an iPhone, since you have to pay the bill. ”  Problem solved.

I wrap and sing and wrap some more.

“I should wrap for people…” I think.  I’ve recently hung out my shingle for consulting, and it’s great fun–I love helping people with their projects and problems.  I wonder if they’d like help with their wrapping.  It’s a rare person who loves to wrap.  I am that person…

I imagine a mobile wrapping business.  Forester Gump and I would pick up presents and return them to the appreciative masses–with or without the Bow Upgrade.

Before long, my wrapping’s nearly done.  I’ve used up every last Amazon box.  I love boxes.  They’re not only easy to wrap, but they disguise gifts well and can be reused every year.  A good oversized box goes a long way to wrapping a pair of socks or a Matchbox car.  Christmas isn’t only about giving.  It’s also about practical jokes.

I bring the presents to their hiding place, not a moment too soon.  The phone rings.  “We’re five minutes away.”  I pack up faster.   This may be our last year of such things.  I want to make it count.

I wonder if I’ve taught gratitude well enough.

“You know Santa can’t get you everything on your list…that it’s just a guideline to help him pick a thing or two that you want,”  I say.  “Santa has to make sure there’s something for everyone–he has to share.”

“Santa’s magic,” Declan said.  “He has everything.”

“True, but he wants to make sure boys and girls appreciate things…so he makes tough decisions about what each one gets.”  That makes more sense.  “And I know he doesn’t bring animals…and iPhones are only for high school kids.”  There, I’ve said it.

“That’s not true.”  Declan tells me Some Kid got a puppy for Christmas.  I want to thank Some Kid’s mom.

“Well, you’re not getting a cat… Santa always gets approval from parents.”

“You approve, Mom.”  It’s true. I approve.  He knows I want a kitten, too.  I’m not sure if our dog or chickens do, though.  I tell him everyone has to approve.

“The most important thing about Christmas is gratitude and giving.  Santa–and I–want you to understand that.  You must be grateful for everything you have… not just your toys, but your family, your dog, and your nice house.  That’s what life’s all about.”

“And toys…Christmas is also about toys.”

This kid’s a tough sell.  But, I think, so’s every kid.  The key to developing a giving heart is to start young and reinforce often.  Promote generosity, not just during the holidays, but the other 360 or so days when the world seems to forget those in need.

That’s the Christmas gift my parents gave to me.  I need to do a better job giving that to my son.  I restart today, so I can continue to develop that heart until it’s time for him to give that gift to the next little boy.

That’s what Christmas–and good parenting–are all about.