The other day, when I was out Christmas shopping, I came across the classic, bounce-and-go, ride-on, green inchworm and I was immediately transported back in time to when I was four years old and was gifted one from Santa himself! And it got me to thinking about all my Christmases past … about all the toys I received over all those years … and I began to wonder if I had a favorite toy – and a favorite Christmas – and I wondered if they might be one in the same.

I’d be willing to bet all the money in my needlepoint stocking – that for most children – their absolute favorite Christmas present would be the bike with training wheels that they got when they were five … or the 10-speed that they got when they were nine. After all, a bike is typically loved by young and old (old meaning a whopping 9 years of age) … loved both by boys and by girls.

Oh sure, there might be some who remember their first dollhouse or first BB gun with teary eyed nostalgia. But I’d be willing to bet that bikes come up more often than not.

But then I started thinking about the year that I received my first 10-speed. I remember that it was a Schwinn and I remember that it was blue. Other than that, I don’t really remember that much from that particular Christmas. I remember loving the bike and getting A LOT of use out of it over the next few years – but the holiday itself? Not many memories.

But I do remember the year before.

The year before brought a snowstorm through the area just a couple of days before Christmas. And it snowed. And it snowed. And it snowed. It was pure magic. Snowdrifts taller than my head. Icicles twinkling in the tree branches. Enough snow to easily create an entire family of snow-people … not just a solitary snowman.

I remember playing outside till my nose was like Rudolph’s and my fingers ached from all the snowball fights. And then I would run inside for a bit to warm myself by the roaring fire while my mom would make me some hot cocoa with extra marshmallows.

I couldn’t tell you what I got for Christmas that year. I don’t remember at all. But I do remember falling asleep by the fire on Christmas Eve while I watched silver-dollar-sized snowflakes falling outside the window as my mother stroked my hair and Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” played softly in the background.

You hear adults often speak of how Christmas has become too commercialized – about how it has become more about the gifts under the tree than the reason for them. But yet we adults tend to still splurge (when we can) on our children (both young and old) in the hopes of seeing their faces light up because of that material thing in a box with a bow.

But if we look to our past, we’d do well to remember that it probably wasn’t a gift – wrapped pretty with a ribbon – that made our cheeks glow with happiness on Christmas. It was probably the simple things in life: the warmth of hearth and home … the love and comfort of family … the sweetness of cocoa and Cole.

And just a little bit of help from a once-in-a-decade snowstorm.