JENKINS: My five best Christmas presents ever

We all know it's better to give than receive. That lesson was drilled into our heads as children, and as taxpayers we've seen it reinforced by government.

So forgive me if I focus on my favorite gifts. Thinking of them reminds me of the magic of Christmas -- and of the people who have always made sure I had something special under the tree.

My five favorite gifts ever:

• The coolest bike ever. When I was 9, Santa left me a blue bicycle with whitewall tires, "monkey bar" handle bars, hand brakes, a banana seat, and a "sissy bar" for doing wheelies.

Maybe kids today take bikes for granted. But I loved that one almost as much as I loved "Santa" (aka Mom and Dad) for bringing it.

• Eight basketballs. From the time I was 10 until I was 17, one thing I could always count on getting was a new basketball.

In those days, outdoor balls were made from rubber, not imitation leather. A brand new one had an incredible grip; even as a 10-year-old, I could palm it, which was pretty big stuff. I'd spend the entire year wearing that ball out on the driveway, until it was too smooth to palm or even shoot. Then I'd get a new one for Christmas.

• A weekend get-away. When our two older kids were small, my wife and I hardly even had a night out, much less a weekend away. That certainly complicated plans for child number three.

One Christmas, I found under the tree a small box addressed to me. Inside was hotel room key. Not only had my wife booked us a weekend escape at a nearby resort, but she had also arranged for some friends to keep the kids. How many days of babysitting she had to trade, I never knew.

• Three plane tickets to Atlanta. You may be wondering why, since I live in Atlanta, I need tickets to Atlanta. The answer is that I don't -- but my kids do. My daughter, her husband, and my oldest son all live out West, and Christmas is one of the few times of the year we get to see them. That makes the season more special than ever.

Technically I bought this "present" for myself, with the help of some Sky Miles. The kids' gift to me is taking time out of their busy lives to come "home" for a week. At this stage in my life, I'll take that over money (or Sky Miles) any day.

• A baby in Bethlehem. I know Christ wasn't really born on Dec. 25. Doesn't matter. That's when the Christian world celebrates His birth, the greatest gift any of has ever been given because it comes with a lifetime guarantee -- actually, an eternal lifetime guarantee.

I hope you've received that gift, too, and that you enjoy this Christmas Day with your family.

Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and college professor. Email him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.