The season of goodwill …

“This year we’ll really not going to give each other any presents.” In the run-up to Christmas, this sentence is repeated just as often in my family as Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” on the radio and “It’s a Wonderful Life” on the TV. Though of course we all know we aren’t ultimately going to keep to it. Who can resist the wide-eyed pleasure of the recipients when you surprise them at Christmas with small and large gifts. Or the warm feeling you get when you’ve chosen just what they wanted. And so every year there’s a not-inconsiderable pile of presents under my family’s lovingly decorated Christmas tree ….

It’s not because of the presents, of course, that Christmas means so much to me. As an adult, I have come to deeply appreciate getting together with my family, slowing down, and also the obligatory Christmas goose and a nice glass of wine to go with it. Would I have taken the same view as a child? Certainly not. Christmas Eve without any presents would not have been a proper Christmastime for me.

And this is precisely the reason why every year I pick one of the wish slips from the Christmas tree in Krones’ reception hall. It records the Christmas wish of an unknown kid living in a home who maybe would otherwise not have had a gift to unwrap. This year I’ve ordered a coach simulator for a little boy. Perhaps he wants to be a bus driver when he grows up. Perhaps, though, it’s only the graphics of the computer game that he likes. I don’t know, nor can I ask him. But it doesn’t really matter. That’s what he wanted from Father Christmas, and the present will be there, attractively gift-wrapped, under the Christmas tree in the Thomas Wiser Home on 24 December. While I’m wrapping it, I recall the Christmases of my childhood, the excitement as I waited to unwrap the presents, and the bliss of realising that Father Christmas had obviously received the hand-drawn wish slip. 700 of my colleagues at Krones AG would appear to be just as nostalgic for their childhood as I am. Because every year the tree decorated with the Christmas wishes is once again emptied rather quickly, and on Christmas Eve there will be 350 more happy children in Regensburg County. To know that you’ve made a child happy, to give a present – that’s at least as rewarding as receiving one.