"So, it's Christmas Eve," I said to my seventeen-year old son as we drove last night to a neighbors to drop off a loaf of bread. "Did you ever find it hard to go to sleep on Christmas Eve, like it's going to be difficult for your little brother?"
His little brother is eleven.
"No," he said mater-of-factly.
"I mean, " I said trying to clarify. "When you were younger--you know, on Christmas Even...didn't you ever have a tough time falling asleep, thinking about all the stuff you were going to get on Christmas Day?"
"I don't think I ever had a tough time falling asleep, even when I was younger."
That surprised me. I distinctly remember tossing and turning in my bed knowing that in a matter of a few short hours, I would line up with my siblings (always shortest to tallest...) and enter our living room where all the treasures awaited. Watching our youngest this year reminded me of what it's like to be a child at Christmas. That's why I asked my son if he had ever felt that way, assuming he felt the same way I did decades ago and the same way our youngest did now.
Then my son said something that surprised me again.
"You know," he said as we continued driving. "I don't know if I've ever been as excited for Christmas as I am this year."
You see, my son got a job this summer and he was able to make some good money. So when he approached my wife and I a few weeks ago and said he wanted to get his siblings some excellent Christmas gifts, we were a little taken back. But he wanted to do it and the reaction from the younger kids this morning was priceless.
I think this year we saw a teenager who found out just how wonderful giving--and not just getting--can make you feel. That's what I call a successful Christmas.