Like most kids in the US, I used to LOVE Christmas. Going to sleep and staying asleep on what for me was easily the longest night of the year was hard. And while it was usually model cars, planes, toy guns, and slot cars that occupied my mind instead of sugar plums, the effect on my adolescent brain was the same. I was obsessed by the presents I would soon receive.
As I grew older Christmas changed. By the time I was in my teens it had morphed into a happy but less gift obsessed time of year. I got my first stereo at Christmas. But instead of it being a giant surprise, I picked out and purchased the system myself at Sam Goody's in NYC., And while it wasn't set up until Christmas day, and was technically "a present," it wasn't nearly the same level of anticipation as a model car kit was when I was younger.
I remember the first time the stereo was turned on. The H.H. Scott receiver sounded great for about ten minutes. Then, with a puff of smoke, it died halfway through the Garrard turntable's first record. And it was back to the big Emerson table radio for Christmas music.
The day after Christmas I returned the defunct Scott to Goody's and replaced it with a Harman Kardon Nocturne receiver. I wanted another Scott, but the salesman informed me that "all those Scotts blow up" and steered me to the Harman Kardon Nocturne. That receiver lasted for years driving a pair of EPI 100 speakers.
When I reached my 20's Christmas became more about the meals and parties than the gifts. I had taken the Billie Holliday song, "God Bless the Child" to heart, and if I wanted a new toy I didn't wait for Christmas to buy it for myself.
Gradually, over the years, Christmas has morphed into enjoying "the Christmas spirit" in others. We always put a wreath on the door, but for "presents" my wife and I pick out and order some chocolates that we haven't tried from Sees or Bissingers and that's about as far as our domestic gift-giving goes. On Christmas Eve my wife's family does a "Scotsman's Exchange" along with a meal and that is that.
So on this Christmas day I wish everyone a happy holiday season filled with good food, old friends, and of course, great music...