AUTHOR: Slublog DATE: 12/23/2004 08:58:00 AM ----- BODY: Noonan and Christmas - Peggy Noonan reminds us what Christmas is really about, and remembers her favorite gift. When I think of past Christmases, I don't really remember looking forward to one gift more than any other. What I enjoyed as a child was midnight mass at the base chapel. One, it was shorter than regular mass, which was always good. Two, it almost always ended with everyone lighting a candle and singing "Silent Night." I remember thinking it was something special, and not just because I got to hold fire. After the midnight mass, we would all go back home and open one gift. Choosing which gift to open was always hard, because you really didn't want to open socks or something like that. You wanted the good stuff - Star Wars toys, Legos...that sort of thing. It never seemed to occur to me as a child that the other presents were just a few hours away. It still doesn't, really. Opening presents is still a source of joy. Our family has a shark feeding frenzy approach to the opening of gifts - we dive into the gifts, paper flies everywhere and a few minutes later, we're all enjoying the gifts we've been given. My wife's family, on the other hand, has a different system. They make a day (or two) of it. Everyone sits in a circle, and someone is chosen to hand out the first gift. They pick a gift for someone else, and all watch as that person opens the gift. Then that person picks a gift for another, and so on. It takes about four hours, with breaks for coffee and tea. Unfortunately, I let on too early that I really enjoy tearing open presents at lightspeed, so guess who doesn't get picked to open a present that often? It's fun, in a sort of strange way. This year, though, Christmas is with my family. Let the feeding frenzy commence. --------