DEAR MISS MANNERS: We had four children about five years apart, lots of gifts under the tree, and a very calm, enjoyable, fun-filled Christmas morning. It was a family time. Dad gave someone a gift. It was opened, admired by all, thanked, and a hug and a kiss if it was from one of the family present, and an easy jotting down if there was a need to write a thank-you.
Then we'd stop, have breakfast, go to church, have lunch, take a walk, or just break to enjoy what we had received. It was fun to watch that perhaps one child (or each in turn) was more excited about giving the gift they had purchased or made to one of the siblings or parents. And that child got to present the gift to the sibling. Some Christmases it took us all day to open the gifts or even into the next day. As the older children began to read and write, they often wanted to be the note keeper.
I have always been thankful for the way we handled Christmas morning. Speak of teaching patience! The joy of giving. Concern for others. Sharing. I could go on and on.
GENTLE READER: Like a sack of coal, Miss Manners' annual holiday mailbag is filled with accounts of greed, strife and ingratitude. She is immensely grateful to have found this gem among them.