For those of you poor children unfamiliar with the phrase, it comes from the classic Peanuts Halloween special, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

After each trick or treat session, each member of the party announces the treat they received. Each time, with great dejection, Charlie Brown says, “I got a rock.” Every year the show airs, concerned children flood any fan club for Charlie Brown they can find with candy. We’re a sympathetic lot.

I waited at the house with great anticipation for my daughters to return from their grandparents’ house this Christmas Eve. Emily jumped out of the car, tote bag in hand, immediately pulling out favorite new toys, a shirt, candy, and coloring books. “Look what I got for Christmas!” she said, spreading her loot all over the stairs.

Elizabeth insisted on walking around from the garage to the front door to ring the doorbell, as is her habit lately. I opened the door for her, blonde hair lit in the sun and asked her, “Elizabeth, what did you get for Christmas?”

She held out her hand and opened her fist. “I got a rock!” she announced.

Children are always the unexpected joy at Christmas. You can spend entire paychecks on toys, games, puzzles or treats, but you can never anticipate the thing that matters most to them–an empty box the perfect size to sit inside, a colorful bow that fascinates them for hours, or, as in the case of little ‘Liza, a rock she found in the dirt at her grandparent’s lake house.

I wish all of you a wonderful holiday filled with simple joys discovered in unexpected places. Merry Christmas.

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