Our family didn’t have much money when my brother Pat and I were small, but Mom and Dad made sure we had wonderful Christmases. They weren’t much different from that holiday depicted in “A Christmas Story,” the wonderful 1982 film written by Jean Shepherd, based on his novel “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.” It starred Peter Billingsley as “Ralphie” and featured Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon as his parents. Though it was set in the 1940s, most of the points the movie “got right,” especially that of childhood anticipation. The aspects in Shepherd’s story still held true for the Christmases we remember in the late 1950s and early ’60s. Thankfully, we never had to wear pink bunny pajamas with feet, but the rest of it was mostly accurate. Pajamas figured prominently in our Christmas lore, however, as our mother had us open the latest replacement pjs as our one “Christmas Eve gift” each year. I’d open a blue pair and Pat would open red ones. After suffering through the slowest day of the year, a kid really isn’t looking for pajamas in the first gift he opens. It was several years before we were sharp enough to realize the trend and negotiate an agreement to open a gift that we didn’t immediately wear to bed. For a few years, when Pat and I were in the 6- to 8-year-old range, we traveled on Christmas Eve the eight miles to my maternal grandmother’s house — or her sister’s house just up the road — for a quick gathering of their brothers and sisters and their offspring. We normally enjoyed seeing our cousins, but the children there on that night were all in agreement: “Let’s get this thing over with so we can get home and get the sleeping out of the way! Besides, if we’re not asleep when Santa comes by the house, he won’t even stop!” Not that getting home and heading to bed meant visions of sugar plums immediately danced in our heads. The promises of the next morning led to excited whisperings between Pat and me of what might be under the tree after Santa completed his rounds. It likely was the longest we had been awake in a room together without a brotherly skirmish since the previous Dec. 24. But we were comrades on that night — a spat might move our names from the “nice” list to the “naughty” in a quick 30 seconds of misjudgment. That gleeful anticipation wasn’t restricted to our bedroom. One year in the early 1960s, “Santa” was so excited when he completed construction of a small, square, blue-framed trampoline — weight limit, 90 pounds — he had our father “accidentally” wake us at 12:30 a.m. to see what awaited us in the living room. If left to our own sleeping patterns, it usually was 5 or 6 before we awoke and started yelling for Mom and Dad to emerge and set up photography to preserve our joy on film for the coming generations. In our house, it was done with a Kodak 8 mm movie camera with a tree of lights. … Ahh, the quest to record history in the ’60s. … It’s no wonder our parents sometimes brush away today’s technology of amazing photography — it’s too easy these days! Our bounty of toys occasionally was so abundant that we’d find a small gift that had been edged behind living room “drapes” or curtains that came down to the hardwood floor. Mom might say, “I knew there was something missing!” The one I recall a half-century later was a four-pack of Play-Doh for Pat that we found Dec. 28. By then, though, the pace had slowed for our parents and the “vacation days” for us zipped by. And they wouldn’t slow to a crawl again until the next December. Merry Christmas.