Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, the Years Have Changed Both the Meaning and The Season
Old Times Were Good Times
The "Night Before Christmas" was read.. we slowly turned each page. On the cover, Santa in his velvet coat has softened to a faintly red texture. After the story of baby Jesus, we were shooed up the stairs for a fitful night sleep, hoping that Santa could bring his sleigh through the twelve foot snow.. Isn't it funny how tall the snow feels when you are little?
Every year my dad would take my brother out to find a tree in the woods. Father and son, would come home with the best pine that they could find. Covered in snow, dad would shake the snow off on the porch, while my brother would push the tree through the front door. A red tree holder was ready on a white sheet to place the tree, and water. A broken ornament reminded me to be more gentle. Harmonically the Christmas music played on the old stereo, from carols, to chipmunks filling our ears with the joy of Christmas. A Star was placed up top in remembrance of the real Christmas star, that led the shepherd's to baby Jesus.
Making Christmas Cookies was a wonderful part of Christmas. One year I found my very own toy oven, so I could make cookies with my dolls. I remember it replaced my old cardboard box, with magic marker burners on top. Cardboard boxes were a mainstay of pretend play, imagination is one of the causalities of only store bought toys. Video games, and remotes have replaced the imagination in many of our young today.
Dad would be making sure the fire was stoked, so our home would have heat every morning, Especially this one ! My brother would wake me, or I him as we awaited at the top of the staircase, snuggled in our blankets. Mom and Dad would call us to come down when they were "ready". Descending the staircase, my mothers Super8 movie camera 'spotlight', would temporarily blind us from the Christmas tree. It's presence helped us relive the moment for years to come. Rubbing our eyes until they adjusted, amazed by the presents that magically appeared under the tree.
Stockings Hung With Care
The moment my feet met the living room floor, I grabbed my stocking, dragging it to the largest register in the house. Always trying to beat my brother to it, we could both fit if we tried, but whoever managed to get there first could claim the most heat. The warmth of our farmhouse registers, notably more warming heat, than the updated versions, sounds wonderful on a day like today. Carefully hung the night before, our stockings were not shapely, covered in glitter, but rather my dad's old socks. We placed thumbtacks in the top, to hold them up, on the back of the couch. Filled with oranges, apples, and some candy. We were never rich in the sense of a fancy home, or clothes. Gloves, hats, mittens, underwear, socks, a new outfit, and one special toy was all that we really needed. We would always remember our one special gift, for our gift was a sacrifice from my mom and dad each year and we knew we would never be without at least one special gift. I wonder how children would feel about that today?
Waiting with exhilaration to see the face receiving the gift you picked out all by yourself, was just as fun as getting a gift. We were given a small amount of money to buy for our parents and each other. My dad received so much Hi Karate. I hope he liked the smell, because once he seemed pleased, I bought him a gift set every year! As the years passed by, I found myself passing by on that tradition, with my own children. I feel I shortchanged them from picking a gift they would like to buy, instead buying something for them to give. In the interest of time and money the change, easier- maybe-, but not the same. My son gave me a beautiful necklace, picked out all by himself to give me. The school had asked for donations for their Christmas store. With a small amount of money, each child could shop for a present to give. I cherish that gift until this day because he chose a gift special for me. I have kept it all these years, loved it, but even if I didn't, I loved the giver, and that's what counts.
Presence or Presents
The updated movies replaced the "blinding 8 movie reels", we remembered. When VCR and Dvd Movies came about easier to watch and compare the piles of toys and gifts. Comparing the two movies, some would say how fortunate we have become. A look back in time may be seen with sympathy for what little we received. Like the wooden rocking horse, we foolishly sold and kept the new.The new horse never matched the sentimental quality or construction of the old, and neither does the new Christmas. Cousins knowing cousins, aunts, and uncles, even sisters, and brothers, due to broken marriages have changed the quality of Christmas. A present can always be bought or given, but the presence of family, no gift can replace. If family ties are lost when young, they will be missed when we get old. The presence of family lasts forever, the presents last but a short time.
Christmas or Xmiss
Fast forward... you will find that the season has indeed changed. Christmas has been replaced with "Happy Holidays" to accommodate a select few that find the Christ in Christmas offensive. The demoralizing effect of even saying "Merry Christmas" can cause stores to change both their music and their atmosphere. Some question if the Salvation Army should be allowed in front of stores. Commercialization of the holidays "buy now, pay later" is taking a toll on families, making it easy to overspend. Psychiatrists call it their busiest time of the year. Does it seem that "anticipation", has been changed to "demanding obligation", and the "wondrous expectation", changed to "unremarkable mundane"? The multitude of gifts creates a guessing game keeping presents evenly numbered? Tragically the most serene of holidays has become the most chaotic,anxiety driven holiday of the year.
Merry Christmas To You !
I hope you have some memories of Christmas past that make you smile. To this day thinking of my dads old socks makes me wish I were little once again. I invite you to share with me, some profound memories of your Christmas past, present, or future!