Christmas as a Child
As I contemplate the on rushing Christmas Season, I cannot help but reflect on Christmas Past. The warmest feelings I have are of the Christmases spent as a youngster, the oldest of 4 living in a huge home (It didn’t seem as big when I visited the ole homestead a number of years later), in a very small upstate community where I spent most of my time riding bikes and visiting friends all over town.
Both my parents were full of the season spirit. My mom always seemed so full of enthusiasm for the season despite having to raise 4 children while my dad was on the road selling cardboard boxes to companies that needed customized or special boxes for shipping their products. Mom would bake cookies and pies and we always had a great Christmas dinner. I was very fortunate to have grown up in such a nurturing environment.
I remember one year when my dad actually took me out to “help” find our Christmas tree. I thought the one “I” picked out was the most perfect tree we ever had. I have never had one that nice since, although I have had plenty of beautiful trees. I remember the smell of the autumn leaves as they burned in neighbors yards and how crisp the air began to get as I viewed it all as nothing but the opening curtain on the best, most exciting time of the year. Santa would soon be here. My brother and sisters were equally excited as we all hoped we could actually here the sound of Santa’s Deer and sleigh on our roof and wondered what he would bring and, here’s the topper, we wished like the dickens that it would snow. That would happen every so often on Christmas but not enough to count on the event happening each year. Living about an hour away from Rochester, NY my parents would make the effort to take us to see Santa each year. We would listen to holiday music each day leading up to Christmas Day. We went to bed early on Christmas Eve and could not sleep, got up in morning and were not allowed downstairs until my parents were up, Christmas music was on and tree was lit. It was my Dad’s job to grab a wrapped present from under the tree, read the label and hand it to that person. It was the point in my life when I truly felt loved, safe, and warm and touched by a feeling I cannot identify even today. It stays in my memory like a favorite picture hangs on your wall. It is more than the season, the music, the tradition, the family it is peace.
Every year I love to visit that “place” in my heart when I had no responsibilities, no quotas, no fear of losing my job, no discouragement over trying to find a job. It is my escape from the harsh realities of life. I am sure I am NOT the only one that takes this mental vacation each holiday season because as I look around, I hear the traditional Christmas Music that transports me back in time to a wonderful time of the year. My Mom and Dad are gone now but really miss them especially at this time of year. My wife, Sally, has lost her parents and adoptive mother around this same time of year. Although she never really says anything, I know she travels back to her childhood Christmas with the same time machine I use, the music of the season.
The times have changed since the fifty’s, family doesn’t seem as important to the kids of today, tradition doesn’t seem as important either. We have no emotional connection with the music in today’s holiday shows. We yearn for a time that happened long before they were born.
Yet, this is their time and this is where their memories will come when they grow up with their own families. Each generation takes some of the tradition of the prior generation and begins their own traditions that add to the rich fabric of the Christmas Season.
As Sally and I have aged we have also brought Christ closer to us each season. He has always been an important part of the season, but took a second place behind Santa Claus. Christmas is a time for Christ, reflection, for prayers, for family and for remembering all of your loved ones that are no longer on earth. For me it is a great time for mental time travel back to Clifton Springs, NY where my youth was spent growing up as a kid. I can almost hear my mom and dad and brother and sisters as they were then.
May you all have a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year