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Christmas is a word that can mean many things. There's the moments, the food, the presents, and the birth of the Christ child. But there's also hardships like thinking to Christmases gone by, thinking about different people you've known over the years who have passed away, and not having enough to eat, or not even having enough to live decently.

You might have all the food in the world to eat during Christmas. In fact, I'm sure you have more than plenty, and after at least one of the meals you hate even looking at another piece of food. If you think thatís bad, think about the people who donít have nearly enough to eat. They just sit wherever they are, at their house, at a shelter, out on the street, looking at all the people going in to the restaurants and coming out stuffed to the belly, while all they do is sit and suffer.

Youíll also probably think about people youíve known before who have died. This is always a sad time. Grandparents, parents, siblings, relatives, friends or just acquaintances. These all will surely bring back some memories, both fond and painful. But youíll always have to know that these people wouldnít have wanted you to be sad, but to enjoy yourself, especially at a time as festive as Christmas.

Of course, I wouldnít want to bog down my article with a bunch of unhappy thoughts, so we could now turn our attention away from the worst times and towards the best times. The food, for starters, is some of the finest that you can get all year long. If you thought Thanksgiving was good, youíve just started. For those of you who have plenty, this would be the best time of the year to give some to a charity or a family that you know. I mean, this is the season of giving. Also, make sure you have a bunch of bread and lots of butter on hand. Trust me.

When it's time to open the presents, get out your camera because there'll be plenty of Kodak Moments in the bunch. All the adults opening up their packages to get exciting presents like...bed sheets. Hoo boy, hold me back, I'm going crazy tonight! There'll be the little kids opening up their presents, with shiny, happy faces at Barbie dolls and laser tag sets. And then there will be the teens over in the corner, looking bored and uninterested the whole time, but secretly wishing they could have some of those toys. Actually, I got a few 'kids' toys not too long ago, but that's unrelated...and no, they're not Barbie dolls!

That brings me to a question I've had. Why do adults get less interesting presents than kids? Adults usually get bedsheets, blankets, sometimes chocolate, and usually some item of clothing. When I was younger I was always disappointed and felt sorry for my parents when they got such boring presents. I usually thought to myself, "What kind of relatives do I have? They give me such nice gifts, but then they turn their backs on my mom and dad by giving them cookware and bedsheets! Ewwwww!" Now don't get me wrong, bedsheets are fine gifts. But something more interesting would be nice to see once in awhile, too. Unfortunately, not even I have an idea about what would be more interesting and still be a good gift. Maybe a light-up tie. Uh oh. Now I know what my dad will be getting...

After the holiday season is over there's always cleaning up to do, leftovers to eat, and other little odds and ends to clean up. I can just hear my grandma saying, "Uh-oh, somebody left their toothbrush here!" But when its time to say goodbye to the season of giving, think about what you've done this year, and see what you could do to make it better next year. Did you give something to a charity? Help your host with whatever they needed help with? Take a picture of uncle Frank when he looked oddly like a beached whale on the couch, sleeping right through all the Christmas specials on TV? Well, whatever you've done, Merry Christmas to you, and a Happy New Year!

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Karl Becker, the author of all these articles, uses New Tricks for his writings.

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...Christmas is a word that can mean many things. T...

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