Christmas has always been an extra special time of year for me. I was born close to noon on Dec. 25th, 1974. A living and breathing gift for my mom and family. 

At five years old, I learned what Christmas was all about, the toys! I wanted toys like Star Wars, Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash, and AFX track set. If I got clothes for Christmas, they were thrown over my head and I was on to the next present. 

 When I was a kid, there was no internet.  I used the Sears catalog to look at all the new toys I wanted. My Mom used to have to hide it when it came in the Fall and bring it out in December.  Otherwise, I would spend months reviewing and revising my Christmas and birthday list. 😊  

For my birthday, my Mom would organize a party with my friends on the first Saturday in December.  This was nice as my friends would not be able to come to my actual birthday. This meant I had two days to celebrate and get lots of toys.  Yeah!

The days leading up to Christmas were full of excitement that increased more and more each day.  I would count the days, hours, and minutes until the big day.  On Christmas Eve, my excitement was at 1000%.  So, falling asleep on the night before Christmas and my birthday was not easy.  Can you blame me?  Santa and my birthday all on the same day!  I was an extremely excited boy.  I didn’t need any sugar or treats to get me going.  I heard numerous times, “Go to sleep, Aaron.”  Somehow in all my excitement I would finally fall asleep.  

The big day

On my actual birthday, I always got a birthday present separate from my Christmas presents. We would have birthday cake after the big turkey dinner. Everyone would sing happy birthday to me. In my family, the joke is everyone would sing as bad as they possibly could. We had some good laughs especially when the dogs started howling.

What a day to have your birthday

Into my twenties, the reality of getting older caused me to reflect on what Christmas was for me. I was a bit sad that Christmas felt different. I wasn’t into toys like I used to. The excitement had changed.  Don’t get me wrong, I still loved Christmas time.  I was missing the little kid in me and all that went with it.  I started to reflect on all my memories of Christmas. I remembered all the toys and presents. I also remembered all of the memories with my family and they ways we connected during the holidays. 

Over the years, one thing I found odd was what people would say when they found out when my birthday was. The majority would say something negative, such as:

“That must be a total rip-off.” 

“You must hate that.” 

“My birthday is close to Christmas too and my birthday present always got forgotten.”

When you have your birthday so close to the end of the year, you are one of the last of your friends to get their driver’s license.

On Christmas day, we always had a house full at Christmas of family. I had loved those days so much. We would play board games, play cards, watch movies, and tell funny stories. 

Christmas was so much more than the toys. I knew this deep down all along. I had moments as I got older when I became more aware of what the true meaning of this time of year.  I looked forward to the time spent with family and all the laughing and fun we would have.  

The true meaning of Christmas

It wasn’t a rip-off. I never hated it. I was grateful.  My birthday was celebrated with my parents, siblings, and cousins.  

 I have never had to work on my birthday. I am always with my family on my birthday. 

Ultimately, it is a day of connecting with people who I love and care about.  Now as a father I get to watch the excitement in my son’s plus help create those lasting memories of connecting with them at this time of year.

I know Christmas 2020 is one for the record books. It will be a different day than we are used to. A lot of us may be remembering Christmas’ of the past.

There will be some who will have to spend the day on their own. How grateful are we that technology exists today to allow us to still connect? The world is more connected than it has been. We can all speak of 2020, the sacrifices we have made throughout and any lessons we learned along the way.

Let’s get creative and connect with others this holiday season virually if we can’t in person. If you have kids, you can make connecting with them the focus in addition to giving them gifts.

Best wishes from my family to yours over this holiday season. 

Aaron Solly